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This website is dedicated to the Free Medical Clinic’s namesakes — Dr. Nick Palmer and Jim Ellefson, Sr.
Jim Ellefson ran a pharmacy for many years at 1607 E. 33rd St. in Des Moines. Following his death in 2001, his wife, Judy, donated the building to the Free Medical Clinic which had been operating out of Evangelical Covenant Church at 2625 Hubbell Ave. Jim and Judy Ellefson had helped support the clinic since its inception in January 1997 by donating prescription drugs.
Dr. Nick Palmer was the founder of the clinic and one of the many doctors volunteering at the clinic. He had been forced to give up his family practice due to declining health from Crohn’s disease. But Dr. Palmer saw a new opportunity through the free clinic to fulfill his dream of caring for others.
The donated 80-year-old, 1400 square foot building was renovated by volunteers and opened for business in October 2001. The opening of our new “free-standing” clinic made the operation and access to the clinic much easier for everyone. We no longer had to pull everything out and set up every time. It allowed us to expand the medications dispensed to patients. We also added a “surgery room” that allowed the doctors to perform small office surgeries.
One of the possible developments from Crohn’s disease is cancer, which took the life of Dr. Palmer in September 2009. His passing was a great loss to the east side and to those with no other options for medical care. Dr. Palmer’s wife, Val, has continued to operate the clinic to carry on Dr. Palmer’s vision.
All of our volunteers are unpaid, and many have volunteered since we began…nothing feels as good as giving!