Clinics volunteer docs meet need

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When the Madison County commissioners signed off Jan. 28 on year two of a three-year funding agreement with Madison County Health Partners (MCHP), they ensured that people like Rebecca Rucker will continue to receive health care.

Rucker lives in London with her husband, Rodney. While they are award-winning fosterparents employed by Adriel Foster Care Ohio, they do not have health insurance. So, they turn to MCHP’s Free Clinic for basic care.

 

For Rucker, 42, that care has included treatment for ongoing health conditions, resources for affordable prescriptions, and a payment plan for lab work performed at Madison County Hospital.

It also has included care she didn’t know she needed.

While at a routine clinic appointment, Rucker signed up for a free mammogram, sponsored by the Susan G. Komen Foundation. It’s something she otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford.

“Thanks to the mammogram, I now know that I have a knot in my right breast. Thanks to the clinic, I am getting a mam-mogram every three months to monitor it,” said Rucker, whose grandmother died from breast cancer because it was detected too late. Her grandmother did not have health insurance.

“They’ve just been a blessing for us. It’s something Madison County really needed,” Rebecca said of the free clinic. “The doctors treat us as if we’re paying patients. They don’t treat us any different… There’s a lot of support there.”

Volunteer-driven care

Last year, the free clinic provided 781 medical visits and treated 224 new patients. With the exception of Director Melissa Canney, the clinic’s staff is comprised completely of volunteers.

“What’s neat is that at every clinic, I have at least eight, sometimes 10, professionals giving two to three hours of their time,” Canney said. “If you multiply that and put a dollar amount to it, that would be a really expensive venture if it weren’t for our volunteers.”

When Canney and MCHP Board President Elaine Ewald met with the county commissioners last week, they provided the commissioners with a list of the medical professionals who regularly donate time to the clinic.

They are: Dr. George Anderson, intern-ist; Susan Adrian, certified nurse prac-titioner; Dr. Gregg Alexander, pediatrician; Dr. Martha Geib, pediatrician; Dr. Rob-inette Huston, family medicine; Dr. Colleen Pema, internist; Dr. Jennifer Powell, obstetrics and gynecology; Michael Pritch-ard, certified nurse practitioner; Dr. An-thony Restuccio, family medicine; Dr. Jornel Rivera, emergency medicine; Dr. Sajjad Siddiqi, internist; Dr. Mitch Spahn, obstetrics and gynecology; Dr. Jack Starr, family medicine; and Dr. Mary Trowbridge, family medicine.

Several physician specialists allow free clinic physicians to refer uninsured patients to them and often provide free care in their offices. They are: Dr. David Brown, pulmonologist; Dr. Tarsem Garg, ortho-paedist; Dr. Gary Lau, opthalmalogist; Dr. Donald LeMelle, podiatrist; Dr. Robert Pema, ear, nose and throat; Dr. Thomas Rak, plastic surgeon; Dr. V.B. Revan, allergist; and Dr. Thomas Skeels, physical medicine.

In addition to doctors, the clinic has on tap 15 nurses, five pharmacists and four social workers.

“This is an impressive list you have here, not only of professionals but also of community volunteers,” said County Commissioner Chris Snyder.

The rest of the clinic’s roster includes eight prayer partners, 29 registration workers and seven office helpers.

Funding

For expenses not offset by volunteers, the clinic relies on public and private funding. The organization’s largest funding source is a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) administered by the Madison County Commissioners office. The second largest source is local donations.

Last year, the CDBG provided the clinic with $40,000. For 2008, the amount is $30,000. Next year’s figure likely will be lower, as the grant was designed to help the clinic get started then become less reliant on the grant funding.

“A three-year grant gives a program a good chance to see if it’s needed, then if it’s meeting the need, and the time to find other sources of funding,” Canney said.

Due to the overwhelming volunteer support, the clinic’s return on local and grant investments is about $11 worth of services for every $1 spent, she noted.

The Madison County Health Partners’ Free Clinic is located in the Professional Office Building next to the Madison County Hospital Emergency Room at 210 N. Main St. in London. The clinic is open on most Monday nights. Appointments are required as space is limited. For more information, call 740-845-7286.

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