WICHITA, Kan. -- When Alice Wiggins joined a handful of other nurses in volunteering to help start a health clinic on South St. Francis in 1985, she had no idea it would evolve into what it is today.
Actually, it wasn't a clinic back then. It was the Guadalupe Health Station, which initially focused on preventive medicine for the uninsured.
"But we began seeing people who were ill and needed care," Wiggins said. "Preventive medicine is wonderful, but first you have to get them well."
So it quickly began doing just that as the Guadalupe Clinic while occupying three rooms of the former parish school of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church at 740 S. St. Francis.
As it enters its 25th year in 2010, the clinic has grown considerably.
It now uses all of the renovated space at the former school, expanded to include a satellite clinic at 1406 N. Erie and utilizes more than 150 volunteers.
After starting 25 years ago with a $51,000 private grant from a group of nuns in Oklahoma, the clinic now has an annual budget of $650,000.
But the nonprofit clinic still is about helping the uninsured get well through treatment and live healthier lives through educational classes. From a trickle of patients in that first year, Guadalupe now sees more than 200 weekly.
"I've been in nursing for 35 years," said Marlene Dreiling, who spent two years as a volunteer nurse at the clinic before becoming its executive director in 1999. "This is the most rewarding job I've ever had.
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