December 13, 2019

Lackey Free Clinic

Jon H. Swenson, MD, FAAOS,
Hampton Roads Orthopaedics Spine & Sports Medicine

 

The patients referred to Dr. Jon Swenson from Lackey Clinic often have suffered from joint pain for months, if not years, putting off doctors’ visit for lack of health insurance or financial resources. For many people, the only remaining option is a total joint replacement. 

For nearly 20 years, Dr. Swenson and his partners have found joy in bringing them much-needed relief. 

“It’s sometimes easy to forget that there are people who don’t have the ability to go to a primary care physician or urgent care every time they want to – or even truly need to,” he says. “It feels good to help people who have had a lot of doors closed to them.” 

Located in upper York County, Lackey Clinic is a Christian-based health center that provides free or reduced-cost medical, dental and mental health care to low-income and uninsured residents of Newport News, Poquoson, greater Williamsburg and James City and York counties. 

Funded by donations and charitable foundations, Lackey offers primary care services; chronic care for conditions such as asthma, diabetes and hypertension; brand-name and generic formulary medications; spiritual counseling; and, on the dental side, checkups and cleanings, lab and X-ray services, fillings and crowns, root canals and gum disease treatment.  

Dr. Swenson is one of 172 clinical volunteers, including physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, pharmacists and dentists, and contributes to the center’s wide range of specialty services. That list covers dermatology, ENT, gynecology, nephrology, neurology, physical therapy, psychiatry, rheumatology, urology and more. 

Lackey refers its orthopedic patients to HROSM for everything from arthroscopic procedures to rotator cuff repairs to total hip, knee and shoulder replacements. All have incomes between 139 to 300 percent of the federal poverty level – $35,535 to $77,250 for a family of four, for example – and are not eligible for Medicare, Medicaid or veterans’ benefits. 

“Often their pain has reached a point where it is impossible to ignore,” Dr. Swenson notes. “They are less likely to present with a partially-worn joint, which we might be able to treat with more conservative measures.” 

Since its 1995 founding by Dr. Jim Shaw and his wife, Cooka, Lackey has evolved from three volunteers in a church Sunday school room to a 10,000-square-foot facility with 24 full-time and 10 part-time staff, along with 441 medical and non-medical volunteers. 

After two moves and a series of expansions, the clinic space now includes 10 exam rooms, five dental operatories and two group education rooms. In fiscal year 2019, Lackey treated 1,400 patients during 9,420 visits, providing clinical services valuing more than $465,000. 

Dr. Swenson first connected with Lackey in 2000 through his wife, Dr. Christina Swenson, an internal medicine specialist who was one of the clinic’s first board members. After treating referred patients on his own for about two years, Dr. Swenson got his partners at HROSM involved. Last year, the practice handled 27 patient visits. 

The partnership runs both ways: HROSM also sends some of its patients to Lackey for financial analyses to determine if they qualify for free or low-cost care. That often allows patients to get needed lab work, X-rays and appointments with other local physicians, which in turn helps Dr. Swenson and his partners deliver the best results. 

A good number of Lackey patients are members of the working poor, holding demanding jobs but receiving low salaries and/or limited to no benefits, Dr. Swenson stresses.  

“They are so deserving of our help, and so grateful and happy to get it,” he says. “It’s a wonderful way to give back to our community.”  

To learn more, visit lackeyclinic.org or call (757) 886-0608