Three days a week, a line forms at the door of Plymouth United Church of Christ in the heart of Goshen, Indiana.

The line starts at a set of glass double doors under a historic stained glass window and extends along a chain link fence surrounding the church’s memorial gardens. The line is made up of men, women, children, and families who are waiting to see a doctor. Some of them are sick, some are dealing with chronic illness, some are looking for a place to receive a routine check-up or an annual physical for their child. Most, if not all, are uninsured. Reasons for this vary. They could have recently lost a job, be new to the area or even to the country, and some, even with employment, cannot afford regular insurance payments. The people and the illnesses vary day to day, but the line stays the same.

There is always a need for affordable medical care. For 20 years, the Center for Healing & Hope has provided compassionate service for this demand in our community.

To address the growing need, the clinic has recently shifted its intake process from a first-come-first-serve basis to a more systematic triage approach.

Instead of serving each patient in line consecutively, a nurse now triages based on medical urgency. Based on the severity of the issue, the nurse can schedule an immediate appointment, connect them to an appropriate service, or refer them to our chronic care provider or to a trusted outside physician.

This new approach allows the clinic team to direct patients to the appropriate program or physician based on the need for their visit. The patient, in turn, receives the best care possible by having a consult with a provider who is able to best tend to their concerns.

“We have always been traditionally first come first serve … but times are changing,” said clinic nurse manager Erin Castro. “CHH is evolving, and the care that we are now able to provide is above and beyond what it has ever been over the past 20 years.”

While the switch to triage has major benefits for both patients and the clinic, it has not been without its challenges. The greatest need is for willing providers. When there are not enough volunteer providers, the clinic has no choice but to turn patients away.

The clinic is always looking for qualified volunteers. If you are a nurse, medical assistant, or physician who is interested in volunteering, contact us at 574-534-4744.

As the line outside the door continues to grow, and as the clinic evolves, we are thankful for the ways our staff and volunteers rise to meet the needs of our community with innovation and compassion.

Do you need access to affordable health care? Call us at (574) 534-4744 or email us at for more information. Find clinic hours and more information online here.