Clinic hosts open house

Published 10:16 pm Thursday, June 21, 2012

Western Tidewater Free Clinic Executive Director Miriam Beiler, left, and Board Chairman Caroline Martin talk with donor Jack Baker during an open house held in honor of the clinic’s fifth anniversary on Wednesday.

Exactly five years to the day after the first patients came through the doors of its former building on Godwin Boulevard, the Western Tidewater Free Clinic held an open house to celebrate the anniversary, reward volunteers, showcase its services to the community and entice new donors.

A steady stream of people came through the doors of the building on Meade Parkway Wednesday afternoon.

“We had been trying to get together for me to tour the place,” said Jack Baker, a donor to the clinic who was one of the first to arrive. “I’m looking forward to it. It just makes sense to do something that helps the community.”

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Since that first night in 2007, when the clinic was in a small former residence, it has grown by leaps and bounds. It now has its own building, which it bought and renovated in 2009 with the support of the Obici Healthcare Foundation. It has served about 2,500 patients in 38,000 visits and provided nearly $7.6 million worth of medications.

It also has added dental and women’s health programs and an on-site pharmacy.

“This is obviously a much-needed service,” board member Ross Boone said during the open house. “If we were twice this size, we still could not accommodate everybody.”

Chairman of the Board Caroline Martin said the open house was held to thank supporters in the community.

“Without the community support, we would not be able to meet the needs of this population,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for people who really have made it happen to see the results of their time, talents and treasures.”

Sam Glasscock, who is on the board of the Obici Healthcare Foundation, visited the open house “to support the people who do such a great job,” he said.

“I think this is one of the great things in our community,” Glasscock added.

Boone said the clinic could not stay open without the support of dozens of volunteers from all walks of life, from doctors to groundskeepers.

In addition, he said, many generous donors and support from foundations keeps the clinic in operation.

“While it says free clinic in its title, nothing is free,” he said.

Martin said the clinic looks forward to its next five years of service.

“We want to continue to grow the services and the numbers of people we can serve,” Martin said.