A VISION BECOMES A REALITY
John Auxier: Visionary and Founder of the Free Medical Clinic
The story about how the Free Medical Clinic of Oak Ridge came to exist is a fascinating one. It began with John Auxier, who was one of the founding members of Clinics of Hope USA in Knoxville in 2008. The purpose of COH was to establish free medical clinics throughout the Knoxville area for the working poor who did not have medical insurance.
In the summer of 2008, John arranged for Dr. Tom Kim, already a director of a free medical clinic in Knoxville and a member of Clinics of Hope USA, to talk to John’s Sunday school class at First United Methodist Church in Oak Ridge. The response of the class to Dr. Tom’s talk was overwhelming for wanting to establish a free medical clinic in Oak Ridge for the uninsured poor. This was when John decided that he would attempt to lead the formation of a clinic in Oak Ridge.
The next step was to find out if there were enough people who would be willing to be volunteers in organizing and setting up the new clinic and also volunteering in the clinic after it was established. First United Methodist Church hosted a meeting on July 19, 2008, to which potential volunteers were invited. Amazingly, more than 100 people (medical and non-medical volunteers) showed up, all showing their desire to help in the foundation of the clinic.
The next big decision was the location of the new Free Medical Clinic. It was decided that the Trinity United Methodist Church education wing would be remodeled and used as the location for the Free Medical Clinic of Oak Ridge. Kern United Methodist Church Men’s group led the effort and was joined by volunteers from other churches.
The last step was when Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge agreed to run the lab and imaging services for patients of the Free Medical Clinic at no charge. This was a huge bonus for the Free Clinic.
The Free Medical Clinic of Oak Ridge opened on January 15, 2010, with service being provided all day on Fridays and mornings on Saturdays. Dr. Kim was the clinic’s first volunteer primary care provider. Service is now provided all day on Mondays through Thursdays, and the clinic has nearly 100 volunteers. John stepped down as President of the Board Clinic in September 2010 as he felt he had completed his mission.