The Katallasso Family Health Center at 701 W. King St.
The Katallasso Family Health Center at 701 W. King St. (Bill Kalina photo)

A doctor's office is starting to peer out from the stained-glass windows and arched doorways at 701 W. King St.

In a few weeks, the ladder propped against the wall will be gone. The radiators will make way for a new HVAC system. Soon, the under-used portions of an old church will bustle with activity once again.

The faith-based Katallasso Family Health Center is set to open in York City's Salem Square neighborhood on Jan. 7.

Treatment at the clinic will be free for York County residents, executive Director Brian Kreeger said.

The story of Katallasso -- a Greek word that means reconciliation -- started a few years ago. Kreeger said he had a conviction to share Christ's love in a poor York City neighborhood. So, he headed to South Queen Street.

There, for two years, Kreeger returned on a regular basis to distribute juice boxes and peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches to kids from a red wagon he pulled.

He faced skeptical parents and neighbors -- "Was I getting them ready for vacation Bible school?" -- but Kreeger said he refrained from talking about church "until they knew that I cared about them, that it was genuine."

That experience inspired Kreeger to look for new ways to serve York City. He spent six months researching the community and said he learned that access to health care is a major challenge for residents of the west end.

A community center: Eventually, he found Abundant Life Ministries -- now known as New Covenant Community Church -- where a small congregation was struggling to use its 18,000-square-foot building. He teamed up with the congregation there to turn the church into a community center with a health clinic.

The model for Katallasso Family Health Center is something Kreeger calls "relationship-based care."

Kreeger wants the clinic to treat not only bumps and bruises but also addiction and domestic-violence problems. He said he believes he can battle hopelessness, and the problems that stem from it, with Christianity.

"All problems in life can be solved through Scripture," he said.

Patients will be asked if they'd like someone to pray with them. But, Kreeger said, if a patient declines, that's OK.

Kreeger said he doesn't want the religious message to be delivered too aggressively.

"We want to share the love of Christ," he said. "We're not going to be beating people with the Bible."

But, Kreeger said, "They're going to know who we are."

"The spiritual part will be dictated and guided by the patient," he said.

Volunteers needed: Plans call for at least two exam rooms, maybe three. Kreeger also wants to set space aside for "biblical counseling."

To cover construction costs, they still need to raise about $100,000, Kreeger said.

Most of all, Kreeger needs doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners willing to volunteer five hours per month to treat low-income patients at the clinic. Except for a few administrative staff positions, the clinic will be run by volunteers.

The clinic will be open between 15 and 20 hours per week.

An open house for the public is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 15.

-- Erin James may also be reached at ejames@yorkdispatch.com.