Our Blog

Beth McKee-Huger: A new approach to health care is growing in Greensboro

This article originally appeared in the Greensboro News & Record.

Mustard Seed is a holistic community health organization and clinic that was planted in Cottage Grove in southeast Greensboro, and is growing into a prototype for health systems.

It not only provides high-quality primary medical and mental health care, it takes extra steps to help people face the barriers to good health. Lack of healthy food? There’s a community garden. Stress from family members with mental illness? Counseling is provided. Isolation? There are group activities, even when group members don’t know each others’ languages. Fear of crime? The neighborhood association partners with police.

The model is built on teamwork.

What difference does this make?

  • An elderly African American woman who lives near the clinic has struggled to take her medications as prescribed because of family stress. A doctor and social worker have made home visits to address medications, stress, family dynamics and problems related to the 2018 tornado. The community nurse does blood pressure checks and community health workers focus on stress and case management. This wrap-around care has helped keep her on track during a very difficult time when she might otherwise be in the hospital.
  • An elderly Burmese woman has also worked with several members of the Health Outreach Team and clinic to address her health concerns, including PTSD from trauma that she suffered in her home country. The PTSD evaluation will help Elon Law prepare her citizenship application.
  • A young Latina woman who has struggled with chronic and severe depression for most of her life. She started with counseling but, over time, she built enough trust to see the doctor and try an antidepressant. She’s now feeling much better and is working on prioritizing her health and weight.
  • Without health insurance for primary care, people often wait until they are seriously ill before going to a hospital emergency department. Their lives are complicated by stress and pain and poverty. And then they get the medical bills that they may never be able to pay.

Health systems are changing, recognizing that, in addition to excellent medical care to treat severe diseases, our community can work together to address the underlying causes of illness and keep people healthier. The concept makes sense — but actually doing health in a new way can be complicated. As an independent health center intentionally located in a community without other health care, Mustard Seed Community Health can be one demonstration of how to integrate primary care with mental health services, concern for housing, opportunities for physical exercise and fresh food in the neighborhood. .

This works: 70.5% of patients diagnosed with diabetes brought down their A1C test below 8% at the most recent visit; 72.2% of patients with hypertension had a blood pressure of less than 140/90. Without this success, chronic illness can spiral out of control; diabetic coma and massive stroke would have drastic impact on patients, their families, health care systems, employers of workers juggling caregiving responsibilities, and community agencies serving vulnerable people.

Mustard Seed reduces the human and financial cost of illness for an average patient cost of $590 this year. Since patients with limited income and without insurance pay on a sliding scale, typically $20 a visit, Mustard Seed relies on donations to support the remaining costs of high-quality care. Individuals, businesses and faith communities can choose to sponsor a Day of Health in honor or memory of someone special, covering those clinic expenses for a day.

Community Appreciation Day on Friday will be an opportunity to share hot dogs with Cottage Grove neighbors, tour the clinic, and hear more about ways to support Mustard Seed.

Mustard Seed Hires Executive Director

GREENSBORO – Mustard Seed Community Health has hired its first executive director, Lee Kirkman, a veteran of 27 years’ business management experience including eight years in nonprofits primarily in the Greensboro area.

“Lee is the perfect candidate for us,” said Scott Kutos, Mustard Seed’s chairman. “He has worked in nonprofit management, finance and fund-raising. He’s just what we need to bring our organization to the next level.”

Mustard Seed is a nonprofit medical clinic that opened in March and provides primary medical care to the underserved in the Cottage Grove neighborhood of East Greensboro. It is supported by donations from the faith-based community, individuals, foundations and corporations.

“I have been watching the evolution of Mustard Seed for three years, ever since Dr. Beth Mulberry began talking of her desire to open a clinic as she and I stood beside one another and played handbells in the choir at Congregational United Church of Christ,” Kirkman said.

“And now here we are, the doors are opened and the first patients are being treated. It is quite amazing.”

Asked to describe his work philosophy, he quoted cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

“We at Mustard Seed Community Health are doing just that, changing the world where we are,” Kirkman said.

He has a bachelor’s degree from Appalachian State University in communications and attended High Point University’s Nonprofit Management Institute.

He performs professionally with Bel Canto Company, Season’s Best Carolers, and Greensboro Historical Museum’s 5 BY O.HENRY; and is a tenor section leader and member of Trinity Voices at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.

Among the Greensboro-area nonprofits he has worked with are the Women’s Resource Center, ArtsGreensboro, the Servant Center, the Eastern Music Festival, Greensboro Housing Coalition and GreenHill Center for NC Art. He started in his new role on July 5.

Mustard Seed Approved for $150,000 grant

Mustard Seed Community Health has been approved for $150,000 state grant that will help the organization pay some operating expenses and expand some services in the Cottage Grove community.

The Community Health Grant was approved by the N.C. Office of Rural Health, which is responsible for improving access, quality and cost-effectiveness of healthcare. The grant is for one year.

To be approved for the grant, Mustard Seed went through a competitive process and was reviewed by such organizations as the N.C. Community Health Center Association, the N.C. Free Clinic Association, the N.C. Institute of Medicine, the N.C. Hospital Association, the N.C. Medical Society Foundation.

“This grant not only helps us maintain our services for another year,” said Mustard Seed Chair Scott Kutos, “but because of its competitive process, also shows what a fine job our people have been doing, especially our medical director Dr. Beth Mulberry.”

The money will be used for operating expenses such as rent, utilities and medical supplies. It also will be used to hire a social worker who will assist patients when needed.

The medical clinic in east Greensboro opened March 1.

Mustard Seed celebrates grand opening

Mustard Seed Community Health celebrated its grand opening on Saturday, April 30, under threatening skies that failed to keep away many Cottage Grove residents, volunteers, board members, sponsors and donors.

The medical clinic, which aims to serve the underserved, opened March 1 of this year.

About 100 people attended the grand opening including Greensboro City Council members Sharon Hightower and Nancy Hoffmann.

Vietnamese and Burmese foods were served along with a traditional American meal – pizza. Mustard Seeds were handed out. Games were played. Clinic tours were given and door prizes were given away.

Board Chair Scott Kutos told the crowd that, “Mustard See is an attempt to solve the national problem of healthcare access by working at the local level. The dream of the board at Mustard Seed and its medical director, Dr. Beth Mulberry, is to solve that problem and become a role model to other communities.”

Dr. Mulberry thanked those who organized the event and those who had helped make the clinic a reality.

And the rain held off.

Come Out and Help Us Grow

Seeds and planting are very important to Mustard Seed. Just look at our name.

Please join us for the launch of the New Hope Gardens at Mustard Seed & Eastside on Tuesday, April 19, at 10 a.m.

The planting will be held at two sites: the raised beds behind the medical clinic and at raised beds on Gillespie Street. The clinic is located at 238 S. English St. in Greensboro. The other site is at 207 Gillespie St.

This project is under the direction of Marvin Richmond. If you would like to volunteer, please call him at 336-543-5863 or 336-617-6723.

The N.C. A&T State University’s Cooperative Extension Program is sponsoring these events as part of their “125 Years of Service Project.”

Mustard Seed and the New Hope Gardens are two of a number of partners in Healthy Cottage Grove, the umbrella organization for neighborhood renovation in the east Greensboro’s Cottage Grove area.

Clinic open full time

We are excited that the Mustard Seed medical clinic is now open full time. The clinic hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday. The clinic is now fully staffed and we look forward to staying in touch with you.

Triad City Beat writes about Mustard Seed

Triad City Beat’s Eric Ginsburg did a nice story on Mustard Seed this week. Here’s a link:

http://triad-city-beat.com/new-health-clinic-targets-underserved-population/

Mustard Seed Receives $35,000 CVS Grant

GREENSBORO – Mustard Seed Community Health has received a $35,000 grant to track a group of 100 patients in east Greensboro and use the results to tackle lifestyle and environmental issues that contribute to some significant diseases.

The grant is from the CVS Health Foundation in partnership with the National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics.

Mustard Seed is a nonprofit that offers medical care to residents of the Cottage Grove neighborhood. It is part of a general renovation effort by the Cottage Grove Initiative.

The clinic is focusing on four health issues that have been identified as the most significant in Cottage Grove. The four are asthma, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

The group of 100 patients will be treated during 2016 and results will be used to identify contributing lifestyle or environmental issues.

“The only thing better than a cure is prevention,” said Dr. Beth Mulberry, the clinic’s medical director.

An example of this type of coordinated care is the treatment of asthma. The results of asthma patients will be used to partner with the Greensboro Housing Coalition to remedy environmental problems in homes, eliminating some of the causes of asthma.

The CVS Health Foundation is dedicated to strengthening nonprofits that are committed to providing health care to the underserved. The mission of the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics is to ensure that the medically underserved have access to affordable quality health care.

Mustard Seeds partners are: Brown Investment Properties; Congregational United Church of Christ; Cottage Grove Initiative; Cottage Grove Neighborhood Association; FaithAction International House; First Presbyterian Church; Greensboro Housing Coalition; Guilford County Department of Public Health low cost pharmacy; Guilford County Care Network (GCCN) for specialty care; Holy Trinity Episcopal Church; NC A&T State and UNCG combined Congregational Social Work Program; New Hope Missionary Baptist Church; New Hope Community Development Group; Partnership for Community Care for Orange Card sign up, case management and nutrition education; UNCG Center for Community Engaged Design; UNCG RN to BSN program; Westover Church.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People Can Change The World

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Margaret Mead

This quote by Margaret Meade contains 22 words, and yet to many it is a treatise on how to help improve the world, this country and this community we call home.  Dr. Meade’s quote, with all of its hope, describes what is happening with The Mustard Seed Community Health.

It started with an idea that morphed into a dream that became reality on October 22, 2015; a reality of being able to provide assistance medically and in many other ways to our neighbors that are underserved.

On that Thursday this fall over 70 people attended the Open House of The Mustard Seed Community Health Center at 238 S. English Street, part of the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church campus. To the “small group” that first held the dream, the response was overwhelming.  Those in attendance included many “committed citizens/neighbors”, retired physicians, clergy from numerous churches, city council members, state representatives and other people who have devoted their lives to being a part of the “change”.

The construction is winding up. The onsite training of personnel is beginning.  The next step is to “hang the shingle”!

Community Health Discussion June 5, 2014

Mustard Seed Community Health held a successful “community discussion” on healthcare in Greensboro on June 5, 2014. Over fifty people attended the event representing leaders in the health care, business and faith communities.

Judy Page

Judy Page

Thank you to First Citizens Bank for sponsoring the lunch and to Revolution Mill for providing the beautiful venue. We also want to thank Judy Page, the administrator at Congregational United Church of Christ, for all of her valuable time, energy and know how in helping with the invitations and rsvp cards. Her talents are greatly appreciated!

Beth Mulberry M.D.

Beth Mulberry M.D.

Beth Mulberry, MD and The Reverend Julie Peeples led the discussion by explaining what the Mustard Seed Community Health organization is seeking to do for the approximately 45,000 uninsured people in Greensboro and how it will be accomplished. Beth led the discussion by providing the mission and the vision of Mustard Seed and explaining the four prong approach that will be taken.

  1. Physical Clinic: Integrated Primary Care, Mental Health and Dental Health, staffed with retired physicians, nurses and community volunteers from our universities and general population.
  2. Community Health Outreach Program: Staffed with people and case managers that will be out in the community checking on those that are being served and seeing others in need.
  3. Urban Garden and Farmer’s Market; Provide training for gardening, canning and healthy cooking as well as providing lower cost fresh produce.
  4. Early Childhood Education: Teach children about healthy foods and leading a physically active lifestyle.
Rev. Julie Peeples talking with Rabbi Fred Guttman

Rev. Julie Peeples talking with Rabbi Fred Guttman

Reverend Peeples began her talk with a quote from Nelson Mandela; “Everything seems impossible until it is done”. She went on to say that the people and organizations behind Mustard Seed are not naïve, that the process is going to be difficult and will require not only the efforts of Mustard Seed but of all the many individuals, agencies and hospitals that are already working to help with the thousands that are being underserved. She knows it can be done. To quote Julie “The mustard seed shows up in several different faith traditions. In Christian Scriptures, Jesus says to his followers that if they have faith the size of a mustard seed they can do miraculous things. We have that faith, and we believe that with a community effort, individuals, faith communities, agencies, our current health system, nonprofits – we can indeed vastly increase accessibility to high quality healthcare for all. We have faith that this is the kind of community where people truly want accessible care for all, not just some. We have faith that there are more than enough creative minds, strong backs, and generous hearts to make this vision come true.”

Reverend Peeples introduced John Mills, Senior Clinic Consultant with ECHO (Empowering Community Healthcare Outreach. John and his organization have helped other faith communities form many clinics throughout the US.  John is donating his expertise and endless hours of work to see the Mustard Seed vision and mission come to fruition.

Skip Crowe with Cottage Grove Initiative

Skip Crowe with Cottage Grove Initiative

Skip Crowe spoke next about the Cottage Grove Initiative and how the Mustard Seed Community Health organization will fit so perfectly with Cottage Grove Initiative’s vision of holistic revitalization. This effort is built on the pillars of mixed income housing, superior educational opportunities from cradle to career and wrap around services including health care.

The event ended with a distribution of cards asking those that were in attendance how they would like to help with Mustard Seed. The response was wonderful!