OUR OPINION: Good Samaritan clinic marks 20 years of healing service

By NEMS Daily Journal

The 20th anniversary this year of the Antone Tannehill Good Samaritan Free Clinic intensifies the light on good deeds in health care it practices for the long term on behalf of Lee County working people of exceptionally modest means with no health insurance.
The clinic sprang from the efforts of the late Antone Tannehill, M.D., a remarkable humanitarian who believed medical care for what’s often called “the working poor” was an ethical and moral obligation. Tannehill’s idea first took root among his fellow members of First Presbyterian Church, but the concept quickly became an ecumenical and communitywide undertaking.
Tannehill and three of his partners – Bill Wood, F.L. Lummus and Eugene Murphey – in the internal medicine clinic known today as IMA – were the first physician volunteers on Good Samaritan’s staff. Lummus and Wood are retired, but Murphey, who turns 92 this year, remains in full-time practice at IMA.
Murphey and his wife, Tupelo Symphony Orchestra executive director Margaret Anne Murphey, will be roasted Tuesday night at the clinic’s 10th annual fundraising fete at Summit Center.
The goal is $100,000; the tickets are $100 per person. Call (662) 844-3733 for information or to purchase.
Three people who know the Murpheys well, son Steven Murphey (also a physician), Jack Reed, Sr., and Bruce Smith, will apply the heat at the roast.
Good Samaritan, housed in a familiar brick building on Magazine Street, is supported by the volunteer efforts of 35 physicians representing three practices, 50 lay volunteers who help with clerical duties, plus specialists and dentists who see Good Samaritan’s patients by referral at their clinics.
The clinic sees 2,900 patients per year and provides 12,000 prescriptions, on a budget of $306,000. Patient assistance programs funnel $620,000 into medications for the clinic’s patients.
Not surprisingly, the medication needs reflect demographic and health trends in the broader culture.
Diabetes medications have become heavily in demand as the diabetes rate has increased. Mississippi is a high-risk state for diabetes, and the rate in our state is among the highest nationwide.
Good Samaritan does not, cannot provide all the answers in meeting health care needs for people in poverty, who are jobless, and who have fallen through the safety nets in other ways.
Good Samaritan was a bold first step. Other charitable and compassionate ventures have stepped and broadened what the Tupelo/Lee County community offers for people at risk in relation to health care.
As with so many other of the best works of compassion, Good Samaritan cannot survive without private generosity.