Baylor grads’ vision serves thousands with free health care services in Amarillo
When Dr. Alan Keister (BA ’92) began offering free health screenings in Amarillo schools 10 years ago, the overwhelming response made it plain: People in his community were suffering and in need of health care resources. Those early services grew into what is now Heal the City, a healthcare organization with clinics providing free services to Amarillo’s uninsured.
Keister and his wife, Vicki (BA ’92), are co-founders of Heal the City, and this year’s recipients of Baylor’s Pro Texana Medal of Service. They started Heal the City simply, offering free care from a house on Monday nights. They didn’t stay in that limited space for long.
“How could we treat these people without knowing what their labs look like?” Vicki says. “So we added a Thursday lab review, and eventually, we realized we needed to have more preventative care. How can you do that without taking care of them as a doctor might in his office? So, it expanded to our wellness program… We really wanted to be able to give them everything they needed, even though they had no resources.”
Since those early days, the free services provided have grown and coalesced into a program that has served more than 12,000 people, providing acute care and services in dentistry, podiatry, optometry, pharmacy, healthcare referrals and more to individuals who were often forced to ignore their health due to lack of access.
Heal the City now features an Acute Care and a Shalom Chronic Care clinic, and recently hired a full-time doctor. Shalom, which means “wholeness,” captures the Keisters’ approach to serving patients holistically — focused not only on providing free medical care, but treating patients with dignity and even offering resources to meet the spiritual needs of patients.
For the Keisters, who met at Baylor, providing medical care to those who would not otherwise receive it is an opportunity to show the love of Christ to their community.
“If we’re going to be known as making an impact,” Alan says, “I think it’s knowing that we make an impact that’s acting out of our giftings to serve others for the glory of God. Love God, love others — that’s pretty simple, right?”
Sic ’em, Alan and Vicki Keister!