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Old abortion clinic becomes a medical clinic for the poor

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For 27 years, 9380-B Forestwood Lane was the address of a busy Manassas abortion clinic. When the owner of the clinic retired in 2015, local Catholics purchased the space, intending it for a different purpose.

“They didn't want to just shut it down,” said Art Bennett, president and CEO of Arlington diocesan Catholic Charities. “They wanted something new and good to happen, something redemptive.”

In November, Catholic Charities will reopen the office, this time as a free medical clinic for the estimated 8,000 uninsured people in the area. The center will be named the Mother of Mercy Free Medical Clinic in honor of the jubilee Year of Mercy, 2015-16, when much of the preliminary work on the clinic was accomplished, said Bennett.

The clinic, which has a waiting room, four exam rooms and other offices, will fill the void caused by the closure of a free clinic in Manassas a few years ago. Volunteer doctors and nurses will provide medical care under the leadership of Medical Director Dr. Scott Ross, a family physician with Novant Health UVA Health System and a deacon at Holy Trinity Church in Gainesville.

“We’re excited about having a family practitioner as well as a deacon of the church to integrate the faith and the best medical practices,” said Bennett.

The Mother of Mercy clinic is the first medical facility run by Arlington diocesan Catholic Charities, said Bennett, so they are eager to establish a network of health care professionals they can refer clients to when health problems go beyond the scope of the clinic. But Catholic Charities does have a network of other resources to offer the clinic’s patients.

“That’s where we as Catholic Charites feel we are strong: we have a wide variety of services we can integrate,” said Bennett, including food, adoption services, mental health counseling, emergency services and immigration support. “It’s the Catholic view of looking at the whole person.”

Ross is excited to treat the underserved in his community, who currently have to travel across the county to receive free medical treatment. “Hopefully, we’ll have a way to take Christ to them as they take Christ to us,” he said. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017