Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form

Mobile Miracles

What began in a low-income apartment complex as a medical outreach to serve an impoverished community has grown into Good Samaritan Health Services and its 13 mobile sites.

Gina Conroy
Sarah Eliza Roberts
May 28, 2018

Some might say Dr. John Crouch, founder and president of Good Samaritan Health Services (GSHS), is the epitome of a good Samaritan with the way he’s devoted his life to bringing free medical care to the underserved people of Tulsa. Yet, if you asked Crouch, he’d tell you, it is Jesus, not he, that deserves that title.

“People come to Good Samaritan Health Services to see our doctors, and our heart is for our patients to find the true healer and good Samaritan, Jesus Christ,” says Crouch. “We realize the name Good Samaritan is a double entendre, and if people want to think of us as nice guys helping strangers in need, that’s OK.”

For 20 years, GSHS has been devoted to caring for the whole person, not just treating their physical ailments but caring for their emotional and spiritual health as well.

What began in a low-income apartment complex as a medical outreach to serve an impoverished community not getting adequate health care because they couldn’t afford insurance and didn’t qualify for government programs has grown into 13 mobile sites holding 54 clinics a month and serving over 7,000 people a year.

The impetus for GSHS was when Crouch realized many patients they saw in the ER were extremely sick because they had delayed health care.

“We needed to do clinical work for the impoverished before they got so sick they had to go to the hospital,” says Crouch. To do that, they needed to take away the problem of transportation. To combat this crisis, they opted to take the medical care to people.

Partnering with Cornerstone Assistance Network, a Christian network of churches, ministries and other agencies, the first medical clinic began in an empty apartment in an underserved area and saw patients once a month. The clinic became so popular, they ended up seeing patients two times a month. Soon, that grew into a weekly clinic with the support of a local church that provided a compassion ministry to the patients, helping them with food, clothing and other needs. News spread, and other needy communities asked GSHS to hold clinics in their neighborhoods.

Dr. John Crouch, founder and president of Good Samaritan Health Services. (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)
Dr. John Crouch, founder and president of Good Samaritan Health Services. (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)

Crouch knew that to serve other communities, they needed to become mobile. They entertained different options, until Crouch heard of a man willing to do health care for the underserved. His one caveat was it needed to be done from a Christian basis.

“That described us perfectly,” says Crouch. After applying for a van in 1999, the 35-foot long Little Sam outfitted with two mini treatment rooms and nurses’ station hit the road and began serving two new sites.

In less than 10 years, they had seven sites with 8 to 10 church partners and lots of wear and tear on their van. With a matching grant, they outfitted a 63-foot Big Sam with three exam rooms, a lab station and medicine dispensary which enabled them to expand to 11 sites.

In 2009, they noticed women weren’t having mammograms or pap smears, so they offered a free women’s clinic once a quarter. “We were taking care of women who hadn’t had health care in [sometimes] 12 to 17 years,” says Crouch.

Working with Oklahoma Project Woman, GSHS gave vouchers for women needing mammograms. With the help of their breast health navigator nurse, women were able to find transportation and help with abnormality follow-ups. In 2010, GSHS went into women’s prisons.

“Some of the women were in tears coming out of the van, saying they hadn’t been treated that nice in years,” says Crouch. “Oklahoma Project Woman tells us our mammogram vouchers are redeemed 75 percent, a higher rate than anyone else in Tulsa.”

Crouch believes GSHS’s success is not just because of the quality medical care they provide, but also because of the trust they’ve developed with patients by coming to their neighborhoods.

“Going into their communities, GSHS takes away the problem of cost and transportation, which are the two main reasons people don’t get medical care until their condition becomes chronic,” says Crouch.

Before GSHS chooses a community for a mobile clinic, they determine which areas are without any other free medical cares, then they look to partner with a church that has an active compassion ministry.

“We believe the local church is the hope of the world as it ministers God’s love to those who are sick and hurting,” says Crouch. “We don’t just want to bring people medical care. We want to care for the whole person.”

GSHS estimates they save hospitals about $500,000 a year.

“It costs GSHS about $300 to see a patient, where an average emergency room visit is $1,500- $1,800 without the patient being admitted,” says Crouch.

In addition to free office visits, patients may qualify for free blood work and reduced rate X-rays. Because they don’t over-test, GSHS was able to get $400,000 worth of lab work donated as well as lowering the cost of X-rays through St. John’s Medical Center’s Medical Access Program.

“We’re really making a difference in Tulsa,” says Crouch. “So much so, other cities are coming to us to see how we are doing it.”

But they couldn’t do it without the generous donations, of which 70 percent comes from foundation grants and 30 percent from individuals, churches and businesses.

Good Samaritan Health Services
P.O. Box 1191 | Tulsa

April 2020 Cover