Gurdon native Amanda Davis was 26 years old when she learned she had a rare liver disease called primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), which allows impurities to spread throughout her body.
The bile seeps all the way out to Davis’ skin, causing her to itch everywhere, non-stop. It got so serious that she could no longer wear the clothes she needed to work at US Bank in Arkadelphia, and she was forced to take medical leave and, ultimately, lose her job.
Doctors told her PBC could lead to her death if the disease went totally untreated, but a liver transplant might save her life. They also informed her of Ursodiol, a pill on the market that would keep her liver from failing.
The medication, however, comes with a steep price — $500 a month. But with no job and no insurance, Davis had no means to pay for the Ursodiol.
So she turned to the Clark County Charitable Health Service, where volunteer director Cindy Jackson offered assistance. The clinic, located next to Dollar General on North 10th Street, houses the non-profit organization that, according to its mission statement, “strives to improve the quality of life for the medically uninsured people of the Clark County community” and to do so by “providing affordable general medical care, preventative medicine and health education.”
Currently, eight churches provide donations to the health service on a regular basis, and about $1,000 is donated by individuals each year. Additionally, the organization has received grants from Southern Bancorp, Alcoa Community Foundation, Arkansas Conference of the Methodist Church Peace with Justice Grant, and the Clark County Community Foundation. Beginning next year, the clinic will receive a grant from United Way of Clark County.
The chances of getting Davis and the other PBC patient a cheaper price from Ursodiol are “slim to none,” Jackson said, adding, “I think our chances with our local community are probably better, simply because our community gives.”
Donations can be sent to Southern Financial Partners, 615 Main St., Arkadelphia, AR 71923 with the check marked “Clark County Charitable Health Service.” Donations may also be sent directly to the health service clinic, 1301 N. 10th St.