Clinic inducts new boardPublished 9:00pm Tuesday, June 18, 2013
The new chairwoman of the Western Tidewater Free Clinic lists getting more physicians involved and improving transportation options for patients as the main challenges for the foreseeable future.
Stephie Broadwater, who has been involved with the clinic since its beginning, was inducted as chairwoman of the Board of Directors at its annual meeting June 3.
She had served on the board since its inauguration in 2007, and has been chair of the development committee and the governance committee.
“We will be celebrating our sixth anniversary next week, and the growth has been explosive,” Broadwater said.
The clinic has gone from serving about 250 patients in its first six months in 2007 to more than 3,000 patients today, she said.
It has been recognized by the Virginia Association of Free and Charitable Clinics as the state’s fastest growing free clinic, according to Broadwater.
“Our biggest challenge has been and continues to be having enough professional medical providers,” she said.
The other big challenge, transportation, impacts how many potential clients the clinic can serve, she added.
“It’s not an issue for everybody, but some of our patients, transportation to and from the clinic … is a challenge that we have been working with, and continue to.”
Another perennial challenge is raising money to keep the clinic operating, she said.
A strategic plan governs the growth of the clinic, Broadwater said.
“One of my focuses is continuing to build the financial sustainability that the clinic will need,” she explained. “We want to be here long term. We think there will always be a need for free medical and dental care in the community.”
Another future area of focus, Broadwater said, will be achieving “the right kind of growth. As a board, we need to look at can we continue that level of growth … or do we need to manage.”
According to various think tanks, an expansion of Medicaid in Virginia with the Affordable Care Act would not diminish the need for free clinics, Broadwater said.
“Many people don’t qualify for and can’t afford insurance,” she said.
Broadwater retired 10 years ago from a career with the Bank of America and its predecessors that spanned almost 21 years.
She lives in Smithfield and is also president of the Library of Virginia Foundation Board, along with being a member of the Nansemond River Garden Club.
“I really have enjoyed it,” she said of her time with the free clinic. “I have learned a huge amount. I had misconceptions about who the patients would be — I have learned a great deal about our community at large, the whole service area of Western Tidewater.
“It’s really been an honor to be part of the clinic that’s helping make people healthy, so they can live the lives they want to live.”