Clinic marks milestone

Published 12:10 am Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Western Tidewater Free Clinic marked five years of providing health care to Western Tidewater residents who otherwise may go without, with a special celebration Thursday.

On an exquisite late-September evening, at the Planters Club on the banks of the Nansemond River, clinic staff and leaders wined and dined with supporters and donors.

At the Planter’s Club Thursday, Caroline Martin, president of the organization’s Board of Directors, delivers the keynote address during a fifth anniversary celebration for the Western Tidewater Free Clinic.

“This is a real milestone for us,” clinic Board of Directors President Caroline Martin told the gathering.

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Motioning to an easel-mounted board bearing the names of clinic founders, she said, “Without them we wouldn’t have had a vision, and it wouldn’t have been a reality.”

The clinic serves people between the ages of 19 and 64 with no medical insurance who live at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

Patients also must live in Franklin, Suffolk, Isle of Wight County or Southampton County.

Incorporated as a nonprofit, the clinic relies on the support of the communities it serves, and Thursday’s event was an opportunity to thanks the individuals, businesses and other organizations that have ensured its success.

“We’re able to do what we’re able to do” thanks to clinic staff — numbering more than 20 full- and part-time employees — volunteers and supporters, Martin said.

Since opening in June 2007, the clinic has served 2,600 patients, totaling more than 41,000 clinic visits and providing value of more than $9 million, Martin cited.

The clinic offers a range of services, from primary medical care and dental care to access to hospital services like surgery and chemotherapy.

Its Medication Assistance Program has distributed about 47,000 free medications, worth more than $7.7 million retail, according to the clinic’s 2011 annual report.

The report includes personal stories of folks who have benefited from the clinic and, in the case of Pastor Sherry Hall, of Franklin’s New Life Church, offered up their own support in return.

After the clinic helped Hall’s late husband, “touched by the wonderful care of the staff and volunteers,” she rallied her congregation to purchase “every item on the clinic’s wish list.”

The vast bulk of 2011 clinic revenue of almost $1.4 million was from foundations, which contributed more than $1.1 million.

Individuals, businesses and faith-based groups gave almost $180,000, municipalities $97,000, and civic groups chipped in $7,225.

“Our budget has grown as our population has,” Martin said.