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December 27, 2003

IF THE GOVERNMENT WON'T DO IT RIGHT

Minister, Doctor and Rock Star Bring Health Care to Town’s Poor
So with the humble beginning of a trailer in a parking lot, Cheslock's vision of a free clinic for Red Bank's poor was realized in July 2000. The local hospital donated equipment. Doctors and nurses volunteered their time, and three patients visited the clinic that first night in July 2000.

The clinic doesn't just serve as a crucial health care center for the poor. It also serves as tribute to the work of Dr. James Parker Jr., and his father, Dr. James Parker Sr., two African-American physicians who selflessly cared for generations of Red Bank's poor. The clinic — the Parker Family Health Center — is named in their honor.

In the three and a half years since the center's opening, it has exceeded Cheslock's hopes for it. "I thought it had a chance, but I never thought it would succeed the way it has," he said.

Today, the Parker clinic has more than 6,000 patients — men, women and children. It's easy to see why patients love the Parker Clinic. But the doctors who volunteer here might actually love it more.

"We're practicing here the way I practiced when I first started," said Dr. Gene Canter, "You know, without worrying about lawyers looking over your shoulder. Without worrying about papers and forms and HMOs and all that other garbage."