A faith-based nonprofit is planning its first free health care clinic in Lake Havasu City for this fall.
Arizona Sonshine, who is sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, has already begun organizing its efforts in Havasu – which is expected to provide free dental, vision and other medical services. The event will take place at the Lake Havasu City Aquatic Center on September 8-9.
Arizona Sonshine was started by a group of healthcare professionals in 2015 to help Arizona citizens who might not otherwise receive needed healthcare services. Joe Fisher, director of Arizona Sonshine in Havasu, said the Havasu clinic will be the fifth location in the state to host a free clinic, following Arizona Sonshine clinics already offered in Kingman, Payson, Prescott and Mesa. He said the Prescott clinic takes place every year, while the others usually take place once every two or three years.
Fisher said he was inspired to bring a similar clinic to Havasu after seeing success in Kingman where about 470 people received free medical care. He said he contacted the Arizona Sonshine board and was in favor of opening a free clinic for Havasu.
“I saw how much benefit it had at Kingman and how many people it served,” Fisher said. “So it’s basically an idea that we got from watching what happened in Kingman.”
Fisher said the clinic’s primary focus will be dental care, including exams, X-rays, cleanings, fillings and extractions. He said vision care will also be a priority with exams and prescription glasses available. He said Arizona Sonshine also hopes to provide general medical services such as physical exams or diabetic counseling, but that will depend on the number and types of medical professionals who volunteer.
“It’s our goal with Arizona Sonshine to help those who sometimes struggle to make ends meet,” Fisher told City Council at its Tuesday meeting. “I think each of you probably knows someone like that. Many of us don’t fall into this category, but as we drive around the city, we find that there are some who are – 10.5% of our population here in Lake Havasu City is actually considered under the threshold of poverty. These people have been struggling since the onset of covid, the rising cost of living, rising gas prices, and we could go on and on. Families with children sometimes have to decide whether to put food on the table or have a tooth pulled or buy a new pair of glasses. So I think it’s a project that will be well received here in our city.
But Fisher said Arizona Sonshine would need the help of the community to make the event a success. He said the Havasu clinic has already received 30 volunteers to help out during the event, but the clinic will need about 125 volunteers in all.
“That includes medical professionals as well as volunteers to help with reception, security, the kitchen crew and all the different things that we will need,” Fisher said. “We need volunteers to come from the community to get involved in this. If it’s a community project, everyone will be happy about it. We are a faith-based organization, but we rely on our community. We rely on other churches, and we rely on service organizations and clubs to help fund this program.
The projected cost of the clinic in Havasu is $40,000.
“We’re getting community input, we just have a ways to go,” Fisher said. “We raised about $10,000, so we only have about $30,000 left. The money will cover facility rental, insurance, meals for two days, medical, dental and eye care services and supplies, advertising and equipment transportation. All of these things add up.
Fisher said no one would make money from the free clinic because all services are provided on a voluntary basis.