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Janet Sevier Gilbreath Award 1995

United Methodist Urban Ministry

1995 Winner
Janet Sevier Gilbreath Special Project Recognition Award

In 1965, as an outgrowth of the Civil Rights movement, a group of United Methodist clergy and laity felt that the Church should be more responsive to the needs of our society. With funding from the Kansas West Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, United Methodist Urban Ministry started as an advocacy organization. In 1981, faced with changes in the government's philosophy of support for social services and an economic crisis due to job losses in the Wichita area, UMUM responded by becoming more involved in direct service. In 1983, a medical clinic with Dr. Piburn serving as a volunteer physician was opened. By mid-1987, the Clinic was housed in an apartment building and served about 3,000 patients. In 1988, the Clinic moved to the UMUM home office at 1611 North Mosley and received the first $200,000 of UMHMF operating support. Growth was rapid in 1988 with more than 9,600 patient visits recorded.

Since that time, the Clinic program has expanded services in response to changing needs of its patients and changes in the general health care delivery system. Today the five-day-a-week clinic offers comprehensive primary medical and dental care, pharmacy and medication services, well child checks, immunizations, and case management. These medical/dental services combine with the other services of Urban Ministry to permit a wholistic response to the needs of people of low income throughout the Wichita area. The most recent changes have included becoming a Federally Qualified Health Center to gain greater Medicaid resources and expanding the dental services program to serve more children in a comprehensive way. The Clinic remains one of the few providers of dental services to persons living with HIV/AIDS in central Kansas. More than 12,000 patient visits are expected in 1996.

The clinic staff includes two physicians, four registered nurses, one certified physician assistant, a dentist, a dental assistant, and twelve support staff. Volunteers assist in several areas including nursing, dental, and unit clerking. Garry Winget has led Urban Ministry as Executive Minister since 1987 and Sandra Lyon has been Executive Director of the Clinic since 1984. With a budget of almost $700,000 in 1996, the financial needs of the Clinic are high. Support comes from United Methodist Churches, Medicaid receipts, state and federal grants, individual donations, and the Health Ministry Fund. No one is denied services because of inability to pay and services are provided on a sliding fee scale.

The future of health care service delivery for persons with limited incomes is uncertain in an environment of devolving block grant funding and managed care. The challenges of the past have been met by United Methodist Urban Ministry with a combination of Christian compassion, aggressive advocacy, insistence on quality, mobilization of professionals and lay persons, and abiding hope and faith. We expect those qualities to preserve and advance this ministry as it lives out the servant call of Christ.


United Methodist Urban Ministry representatives: Garry Winget, Executive Minister; Sandra Lyon, Executive Director, U.M. Health Clinic; Bessie Hall; Norma Stafford; Kerin Smith, RN; Clarence Drake, DDS; and Sherri Robinson, LPN.

Awarded March 13, 1996

Learn more about the Janet Sevier Gilbreath award