The idea for Bethesda was born in 1999 when Dr. Michael Massar, Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas, received a call from a local physician who was interested in setting up a community clinic at the church.
Dr. Massar was inspired to help and soon reached out to other clergy in the area to see if they were interested in a more ambitious idea–a multi-congregation, shared health ministry. Years earlier, a parishioner named Porter Skidmore had donated an 11,000-square-foot building to First Baptist, and this could serve as the home of the ministry.
A steering committee and board were formed, and they agreed to move forward as quickly as possible by renovating a 3,000-square-foot area in the Skidmore building.
Donations of furniture, lab equipment, supplies and money poured in, and Bethesda opened its doors on September 6, 2003. Two doctors and four nurses were on duty.
Thanks to the generosity of early contributors and a sizable gift from an anonymous donor, remodeling continued and the clinic expanded its capacity dramatically. By the end of 2004, the clinic had logged nearly 4,800 patient visits.
Remodeling of the rest of the building was finished in January 2004, and the clinic began expanding its services beyond primary care services to include cardiology, gastroenterology, gynecology, podiatry, orthopedics, psychology, dentistry, physical therapy, ophthalmology, endocrinology, rheumatology, pulmonary, neurology, nephrology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, EKG, diabetes, radiology and lab work.
In 2013, Bethesda celebrated 10 years of successful operation. Since its inception, the clinic has served more than 11,000 patients and completed more than 125,000 patient visits.