Free Care Clinic Shows Off New Quarters
The Sunday afternoon open house at the Moore Free Care Clinic was an eye-opening experience for visitors to its spacious new quarters for the first time.
About 200 people poured into the clinic's new home on Trimble Plant Road in Southern Pines, location of the former Pride-Trimble plant, during open house hours.
Mark Wethington, interim executive director, said the clinic can spread out and serve more patients in the expanded quarters. The free clinic, which began about five years ago in the Southern Pines United Methodist Church education building, had been operating in recent years from 600 square feet provided by the Moore County Health Department in Carthage.
The new clinic site has 3,000 square feet, which includes a treatment room, four exam rooms, reception area, five staff offices, nurses' and doctors' station, a lab, and a conference room.
Despite the size of the new quarters, Wethington said the clinic still does not have enough staff members to accommodate the growing number of people needing medical assistance. The clinic currently has about 2,000 patients, with 270 persons on a waiting list.
"We need more volunteers," Wethington said. "That's the key. We're very dependent upon volunteers."
The clinic, which serves low-income patients without medical insurance, now has space for a number of specialists as well as for primary care providers. Among those specialists are a cardiologist, a neurologist, an ear, nose and throat specialist, physical therapist, and mental health specialist. Wethington said that primary care providers often need to refer patients to specialists in these and other fields.
"Now we can accommodate four or five specialists at a time," he said.
On Monday the clinic served 22 patients between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Wethington said the clinic remains heavily dependent on volunteer professionals, including physicians, nurses, lab specialists, pharmacists, clerical workers and others who offer their time free of charge. Many are retired.
The clinic also has an agreement with FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital for the leasing of hospitalists to assist with the clinic. Under the agreement, one hospitalist serves the clinic daily from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
Although the clinic is largely volunteer-based, it relies heavily on contributions and grants provided by charitable foundations to cover professional and operational costs.
"We are always working on grant money," Wethington said. "Demand has grown tremendously in recent months as more people are losing jobs and losing their health insurance."
The clinic moved into its new facilities in late April and saw its first patient there May 4. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held later that day.
The clinic is not a walk-in service, such as an emergency room, and patients must call for appointments for eligibility screening and to see medical specialists. To qualify for clinic service, a patient must have income of 150 percent or below federal poverty level and be uninsured.
The telephone number is 246-5333.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at 947-4962 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More like this story