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Beth McKee-Huger: Sowing seeds of health and empowerment

Beth McKee-Huger: Sowing seeds of health and empowerment

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‘Barbara” was in jail when her mother with dementia was about to be evicted. Mustard Seed Community Health’s Dr. Beth Mulberry knew that, if evicted, mom would have to go into group care — possibly exposed to COVID and separated from her beloved pets — so she and social work interns got busy.

A request to faith communities for donations to pay the rent.

Contact with Barbara to see that she was turning her life around.

A letter to the court to say Barbara’s mother needs her at home.

Medical care and counseling for Barbara to become caregiver and for mom to maintain health at home.

SCAT specialized transportation for mom.

Food deliveries.

An application for housing subsidy and assistance in finding a good place to live.

With the team approach to medical + mental health + community health, Barbara has made a complete transformation. She is able to take care of her own health and her mother’s daily needs,. She also is able to prevent the devastating public burden — both emotional and financial — of incarceration and homelessness and long-term care and risk of lonely death by COVID.

This is no ordinary doctor’s practice. From a dream as tiny as a mustard seed, good health care was planted in the Cottage Grove neighborhood in southeast Greensboro and took root five years ago. It grew through sunshine and storm to reach out strong branches to the community, to Barbara and her mom, to the neighbors in walking distance of amazing health care, to essential workers without health insurance, and to the people from Asia, Latin America and Africa who are welcomed instead of brushed aside. Distrust of medical care and vaccines fades away when the clinic team looks like the community it serves, speaks the language, feels the pain and shares the love.

Happy National Doctor’s Day, Dr. Beth Mulberry! Celebrate the growth of your mustard seed. Celebrate the vaccines in arms and smiles on faces and lives saved. Celebrate the diabetes and hypertension brought to acceptable levels despite the disruption of exercise and access to healthy foods for too many during COVID. Celebrate the awesome team you brought together, drawn by the vision of “Empowering our Community with Good Health.”

Happy National Doctor’s Day to all the physicians serving our community. National Doctor’s Day, March 30, was adopted by Congress and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1990, commemorating the day in March 1842 when Dr. Crawford Long used anesthesia for the first time in general surgery.

Mary Truslow, co-president of the Greater Greensboro Society of Medicine Alliance, writes: “Each March 30, we, the Greater Greensboro Society of Medicine Alliance (spouses/partners of physicians), celebrate and honor our community physicians by providing support for health education and awareness promotions. This year we selected to support Mustard Seed Community Health clinic to honor our physicians because of its significant contribution to our community and its health and well-being.” To put that support into action, GGSMA is the signature partner in Mustard Seed’s first Sowing Seeds Rodeo from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 8 at Revolution Mill. The family event features food trucks, a flower market, music and more. Guests will be treated to roaming entertainment, balloon artists and a unique opportunity to witness and contribute to the power of community health.

Most importantly, Sowing Seeds Rodeo is a time of charitable giving where the community comes together to raise funds to help care for neighbors in Greensboro and Guilford County. Keep up-to-date on at Mustard Seed Community Health’s website, mustardseedclinic.org.

Celebrate health for Barbara and her mom and our community. Celebrate doctors.

Beth McKee-Huger is an Episcopal deacon, vegetable farmer, housing advocate and News & Record community columnist.

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