Slaton Family Medical Clinic received a $5,000 grant Monday to help with recovery efforts and construction of a new office a month after the clinic was destroyed in an overnight fire.
The grant was awarded by Superior HealthPlan, which has been partnering with Physician Assistant Al Bendeck in the Slaton community for 18 years. State Sen. Charles Perry was in attendance for the grant presentation at a temporary office for the clinic and discussed how a $5,000 grant would mean a lot for a rural clinic.
“This shows resilience, it shows corporate partnership, but it really shows Texans helping Texans,” said the Lubbock Republican. “I applaud Superior for taking that initiative. Dr. Bendeck’s been an established principle in this community forever, there’s not a Slaton without a Dr. Bendeck.”
Bendeck said after the fire, he wasn’t sure about what to do next and whether he should rebuild the clinic or not. Ultimately, Bendeck and his family decided it was best for him and the patients to pick up the pieces.
“You worry about ‘Do I need to retire? It this time to quit?’ Everything I have is gone,” Bendeck recalled feeling as he watched the clinic burn. “But we sought help from the Lord and decided I wouldn’t retire anyway. Our patients in this community are single-family or have one car, or a lot of folks are elderly and do not drive to Lubbock so it’s a blessing for them and us that we’re going to continue this.”
After the fire, Bendeck said community members went out of their way to help the clinic as well as Klemke’s Sausage Haus, which was also destroyed, and the Slaton Bakery, which sustained heavy smoke damage. Patients left voice messages for Bendeck, which he kept, and others offered to pick up bricks, sweep, and donate to help with recovery. While it was a difficult decision for Bendeck, he said it was important to rebuild.
“It’s always interesting when you’re trying to rebuild and you’re 64, but my patients were pretty much crying,” said Bendeck. “Slaton is a small town and small-town people stand up for each other and help each other out.”
Thanks to the Slaton Economic Development Corporation, Bendeck has been able to continue seeing patients in a temporary office while crews work on construction for a new clinic. Treasured items were lost in the fire, including Bendeck’s collection of antiques that he found or were donated by patients, a piano patients played, and Bendeck’s awards and decorations from his time in the military.
Despite the setback, Bendeck said construction on the new office should be done in four weeks, and the building will still have the original clinic sign since it wasn’t burned in the fire.
“Everything else burned because I had it all on display,” said Bendeck. “It was heart-wrenching, watching 18 years go down the drain with the fire. But like the Phoenix, we’re going to come back.”