The Mercy Ministries’ Story
Today, TMM changes lives by providing healthcare services to over 600 chronically ill, uninsured, low-income adults in South Ga. at our two clinic locations in Lyons and Graham through 3 areas of work: transformation of heart, health, and home. We have been extending a healthy hands up since 2009 by showing God’s love in action!
Here’s our story…
Two local healthcare providers, Dr. Nancy Stanley and Dr. Geoff Conner founded Mercy Medical Clinic and Foundation, Inc. in 2009 as a way to “help the least of these” and to provide mission opportunities close to home following the Volunteers-in-Medicine model. Mercy saw its first patients in a makeshift clinic housed in the bathroom at a local homeless shelter. Although Mercy offered healthcare services without cost, many patients refused care because of the lack of follow-up care available if an issue was identified. This planted the seed that would turn Mercy from a relief ministry to something much more.
Turning an eye from acute care to identify the on-going needs of those in our community led to an expansion of Mercy. Mercy began seeing patients at a more permanent location on Maple Drive in Vidalia and turned its focus to chronic disease management. With the support of the community (like churches, local businesses and volunteers), Mercy Medical Clinic became a medical home for low-income, uninsured, chronically ill adults who struggled to afford healthcare.
Although the Affordable Care Act was passed to help uninsured individuals, individuals treated at Mercy often fell in a gap so that they still did not have healthcare coverage. This caused the number of patients to increase; this expansion led to a new home for the clinic on Arlington Drive in Vidalia. Mercy continued to partner with the community and seek outside funding opportunities. Opportunities for dental care were provided through a partnership with East Georgia Healthcare called Compassionate Care Dental Clinic under the leadership of Dr. Lloyd Darby. A pledge for $1,000,000 helped create Mercy Helps for development of clients outside of healthcare.
With the support of the Toombs County Commissioners, Mercy relocated to a new clinic in Lyons. While continuing the existing partnerships, Mercy worked to create sustainability by adopting the Benevon Model. The founding executive director, Dr. Nancy Stanley, stepped down and Carly Benton transitioned into that leadership role.
After studying with the Chalmers Institute and reading “When Helping Hurts”, Mercy began strategically planning to create pathways out of poverty led by the efforts of Clint Hutcheson. What was known as Mercy Helps became Mercy University; the organization underwent a rebranding and became what is now known as The Mercy Ministries. This model of care has been replicated to address needs identified in other rural communities. Our second location of The Mercy Ministries opened in Graham in 2019.
In 2020, The Mercy Ministries received an EmpowerHealth grant from the Healthcare Georgia Foundation to fund training and coaching on the Benevon model. Products of this funding included an assessment that indicated a need for succession planning. This was especially important because in 2021, TMM welcomed Clint Hutcheson as the new Executive Director. Luis Gonzalez joined TMM as the Director of Ministry to fill the position vacated by Clint. Ashley Collins was hired for the role of Director of Development.