In the middle of a shortage of health care providers, a new clinic hopes to address not only the medical needs of residents, but also their spiritual needs.
St. Thomas Emergent Services, a Christian faith-based clinic, opened its doors on Monday. The center is the newest in a string of six clinics sponsored by Horisons Unlimited, a nonprofit health care organization known to combine medicine with the “power of prayer.”
St. Thomas, at 936 W. Main St., will offer services in family practice, behavioral health, dental health and pain management, as well as diagnostic testing such as mammograms and CT scans.
Sandy Haar, the clinic’s chief executive officer and primary care physician, said that besides basic care, the center will also offer innovative, nonsurgical procedures.
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These include vampire facelift, facial micro-needling, intimacy restoration and hair regrowth through platelet rich plasma therapy, a process that withdraws blood from a patient and then re-injects it with the goal of creating a more youthful look. According to Haar, components of one’s own blood are known to enhance the tone and texture of skin.
“These are groundbreaking procedures that you see on ‘Dr. Oz,’ ” Haar said. “You’d have to drive about two hours to find a place that can do (platelet rich plasma therapy); so we’re very excited to bring this to Merced.”
The center will also offer hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Hyperbaric treatment involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized space. Haar explained that breathing in pure oxygen has been linked to the fast healing of serious infections and wounds.
Horisons Unlimited also has clinics in Mariposa, Gustine, Livingston, Chowchilla and Los Banos.
St. Thomas is associated with Sound Life International Ministries in Merced. According to Rudy Sanchez, senior pastor at Sound Life, the concept of combining medicine and faith is also unique to the area.
“It’s been a long journey, two years in the making to be exact, but we’re glad it’s finally happening,” Sanchez said about bringing a faith-based clinic to Merced.
The pastor will visit the clinic regularly to offer patients the option of prayer.
“We treat patients physically, but we also treat them emotionally and spiritually,” Sanchez said. “We offer counseling through the word of God to people who feel hopeless. A lot of these people just need someone to reach out and care for them, and that’s what we’re here for.”
Sanchez said joining faith and medicine has proven to be successful in the other Horisons Unlimited clinics. Uplifting someone spiritually, he said, is key for a speedy recovery.
“It’s been an amazing thing to see people gather for prayer,” Sanchez said. “But if someone says they don’t want prayer, then of course we respect it and leave it alone.”
There are currently two primary care physicians, who together expect to see a total of about 40 patients per day. The clinic accepts Medi-Cal and most PPO insurances.