Lauren's Wellhouse was completed in May and has housed medical care personnel and the necessary equipment to serve the special-needs and chronically ill children who attend the camp.
The medical facility was named for Lauren Hauschild, a camper that Camp Barnabas co-founder and health services director Cyndy Teas met at another camp in 1994. Hauschild was diagnosed with cancer and told Teas that she wanted to "just be a normal kid at camp."
Teas discussed the wish with her husband, Paul, and together the couple founded Camp Barnabas, which serves the needs of the chronically ill and disabled throughout a week-long camping experience.
"We have been open since May," Teas said, "and because of this facility, we were able to offer a girl on hospice the opportunity to attend camp one last time. We were also able to serve two campers on ventilators this year."
Lauren's Wellhouse serves as a temporary home to two volunteer doctors and eight nurses during each week of camp. If needed, children can spend the night in a hospital-type setting under the watchful eyes of the medical staff.
A portion of the interior of the new Wellhouse utilizes wainscoting and other materials from the former medical facility. The inside is also decorated with photos of campers and memorabilia from previous camping sessions.
Medicines are kept in a dispensary and distributed to campers either at the clinic or with meals.
The 7,000-square-foot facility cost an estimated $1.2 million dollars and will serve over 1,300 campers annually.
The need for an expanded health facility came about, in part, due to the increase in camper population after ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" aired and brought nationwide attention to the special needs camp, located just outside of Purdy.
"We just outgrew ourselves," said Paul Teas, co-founder and executive director of Camp Barnabas. "With the new cabins we built following Makeover, we just outgrew our former medical facility."
The Teases hope to eventually open Lauren's Wellhouse to the public during the camp's off-season in an effort to meet the ongoing medical needs of the underinsured, uninsured and undeserved residents of the community.