|Announcing the opening of the Plain City Free Clinic are: (from left) Stacy Troyer, secretary of the Plain City Area Health Needs Committee; Charles Holcombe, volunteer/clinical coordinator; Dr. John Adams II; Kelly Gregory, office manager; and Pam Wirz, medical assistant.|
Plain City area residents who meet certain criteria now have a place to go for free medical office visits.
The Plain City Free Clinic is housed in the family practice of Dr. John Adams II at 480 S. Jefferson Ave. Adams is the primary physician for the clinic, a satellite office of Madison County Health Partners, which also operates a free clinic in London.
The clinic is open most Saturdays from 9 to 11 a.m. Appointments are required and can be made by calling 614-873-8021. Patients must be residents of the Plain City area in Union or Madison counties, be without health insurance, and have a household income of 200 percent or less of the federal poverty level.
The clinic offers basic healthcare, information about community resources and services, assistance with applying for prescription assistance programs, spiritual support, and financial vouchers to help pay for prescriptions. Patients with medical needs that go beyond routine office care are referred to other providers who have agreed to provide services at reduced costs or no charge.
Patients are required to bring to appointments a photo ID and proof of residency (such as a utility bill). A parent or guardian must accompany children under the age of 18.
While the services are free, clinic organizers suggest that patients donate $5 or one hour of community service per clinic visit.
How the clinic came about
The idea for the Plain City Free Clinic actually sprouted from a different idea altogether.
When Plain City resident Charles Holcombe retired as a pharmacist in 2006, he was frustrated with how people take their medications. Many don’t follow the directions, some sell their medications to friends and neighbors, others cut pills in half to make them “stretch,” he said.
So, he started talking to community leaders in Plain City, Marysville and London about how to educate people on the matter. In the process, he learned that Dr. Adams was looking to help patients in hardship situations without insurance and had started researching the free clinic idea.
“I volunteered to meet with Melissa Canney and Twyla McNamara (of Madison County Health Partners) to learn about what they were doing,” Holcombe said.
Before he knew it, Holcombe was helping to form the Plain City Area Health Needs Committee and serving as a liason between the committee and Madison County Health Partners (MCHP). In the end, the committee decided to operate the Plain City Free Clinic as a satellite of MCHP.
A Doctor-Driven Approach
While the clinic operates under the umbrella of MCHP, its structure differs from that of the London clinic. Where the London clinic rotates through a pool of volunteer doctors each week, the Plain City clinic has one main physician, Adams. Where the London clinic is housed in its own building, the Plain City clinic is housed in a private doctor’s office.
Both modes of operation are accepted by the Ohio Association of Free Clinics, to which MCHP belongs.
One of the benefits of a physician-driven clinic, Holcombe said, is the continuity of care patients receive by seeing the same doctor on repeat visits. Also, Adams is offering his space and services at no charge, so there are no rental costs and supplies are on hand.
“I think it’s terrific because it enhances and expands services we offer,” said Melissa Canney, executive director of MCHP about the addition of the Plain City clinic. “Our board has embraced it since they first approached us. We have just provided information and consultation; Charles and Dr. Adams have done all the work.”
As part of MCHP, the Plain City clinic is a member of the Ohio Association of Free Clinics, which means they have access to information, advocacy, and can apply for certain funding. The clinic also is eligible to receive 80 percent reimbursement on its medical malpractice insurance through the state. MCHP’s non-profit status lends credibility to the clinic and the ability to accept donations and apply for grants, Canney said. In general, MCHP provides the new clinic with structure, support and experience.
The People Behind the Effort
In addition to Adams and Holcombe, the Plain City Area Health Needs Committee includes Bonnie Chuha, R.N., Father Patrick Toner, Stacy Troyer, B.A., and Pastor Bob Yoder. Other volunteers who helped with the planning are Zeta Hol-combe, Tom Olson, R.N., Janet Hostetler, and Carolyn Mitchell, R.N.
Holcombe has met regularly with mem-bers of the Plain City Church Fellowship to ask them for their support financially and as volunteers. Two members are on the committee. He also is seeking financial support from the United Way of Union County and the Union County Foundation, which understands that Plain City’s geography includes the northern part of Madison County.
“We’re really starting to bridge the gap between the two counties and the services available to folks who are hurting in the Plain City area,” Holcombe said.
Three nurses in Plain City have shown interest in serving as volunteers, Holcombe said, and many individuals have committed to serving as prayer partners, one of the services the free clinic provides in addition to medical attention.
The Plain City Free Clinic also has volunteer opportunities for counselors, social workers, Spanish translators, and people to work the registration desk and on computer and clerical work. While Adams is the primary physician, the clinic may add a nurse practitioner in the future. Other medical professionals are welcome to volunteer their time, as well.
Holcombe has volunteered at London’s free clinic and has seen firsthand the dedication of its volunteers.
“I’m impressed with how seriously the nurses take their patients’ care. They put their whole self into it,” he said.
Volunteer Training on Oct. 21
The Plain City Free Clinic’s volunteer opportunities extend to social service outreach, which refers patients to programs for issues other than medical needs.
Three clinic volunteers have already gone through what is called Benefit Bank training. Several more plan to go through a full day of training on Oct. 21 in the Plain City Library computer room. Anyone interested in becoming a Benefit Bank volunteer can attend the free session.
Benefit Bank volunteers conduct five-minute preliminary interviews with inter-ested clinic patients to determine the programs for which they qualify. In a second session, they spend one to two hours helping patients fill out paperwork associated with those programs.
Who to Call
For more information about the services offered by the Plain City Free Clinic or to make an appointment to be seen by the doctor, call 614-873-8021.
To volunteer, contact Charles Holcombe at 614-873-8600 or send e-mail to email@example.com.
Donations may be sent to: Plain City Free Clinic, P.O. Box 144, Plain City, OH 43064-0144.