The Charitable Christian Medical Clinic began seeing patients in 1997 after a yearlong process of planning and organizing. Dr. John Wayne Smith had a vision to share God’s love by providing medical care for those who could not afford traditional medical care, and presented a ministry plan to First Baptist Church of Hot Springs. A steering committee was formed and visits were made to other clinics in Memphis, El Dorado and Little Rock. A town hall meeting revealed that there was considerable interest in such a clinic. First Baptist, led by Pastor John McCallum, contributed the seed money for the clinic and gave the clinic its first wings as it encouraged CCMC to be a community project not just a First Baptist project.
The Garland County Health Department and Director Wanda Thorp RN graciously allowed CCMC the use of it’s building on the first and third Tuesday nights of the month, and gave us a large closet to house our office supplies. Gary Curry, retired US Air Force Colonel, became the clinic Administrator and guided the operations of the clinic for nearly 10 years. He, Clarence Jordan, CPA, and Stacy Farnell successfully obtained our 501(c) 3 in May 1997. Mark Meeker, Pharmacist, kept his store open on clinic nights to fill the prescriptions that were written at the clinic. In time, a small office at the health department was converted to a pharmacy on site. Denise Little started the Drug Assistance Program with no computer and a lot of cardboard boxes. Lab and x-rays were performed free of charge by National Park Medical Center and St. Joseph’s Regional Health Center.
In 1998, CCMC leased an office in the nearby Rix building for its increasing administrative needs. Dr. Tom Cofer and Dr. Smith began an “Extended Clinic” there for patients with chronic diseases, a precursor to the eventual “Day Clinic”. In 1999, St Joseph’s offered the former physician office at 133 Arbor to the clinic rent-free. Soon after, they transferred the deed to CCMC.
The Day Clinic expanded after the move and then flourished due to a grant from the Sisters of Mercy. CCMC local fund raisers that have contributed financially are: Chocolate Festival started in 2004 completing its 11th year in February 2015; Golf tournament first held in 2004; musical concerts by Louis Menendez held 2011-2013.
Mili Lopez became Administrator in 2006 and led the clinic through the economic recession. Dian Masengill led the conversion of the Drug Assistance Program from paper to electronic. Dr. John Crenshaw joined CCMC in 2001 as a staff physician and volunteer, and led the clinic as Board Chairman for 9 years. Sharon Morel became the Nursing Director in 2004.
In 2011, Lynn Blankenship became the CCMC Administrator and now is Executive Director. In 2014, CCMC changed its name to the Cooperative Christian Ministries and Clinic and began its expanded mission.
Many stories could be told about how God has blessed CCMC through the years. In the first few months, we decided we might need a computer. The Medical Auxiliary soon approached us about what we needed and then provided a computer. With the computer in the box on his desk, Gary Curry said; “Lord, you gave us this thing. Now what do I do?” In precisely that moment, a man knocked on the door and wanted to volunteer. When Gary asked what skills he had, the guy said: “I am a computer technician”. The Lord provides!
There are many more stories but they all would have one theme: He has been faithful. When we doubted, He provided. When we got tired, He strengthened. When we were clueless, He had the answers before we knew we had a problem. When we were nearly out of money, He gave us some. Thanks be to God!