“It’s filled a need and a gap,” Bette Horan, a retired licensed practical nurse and volunteer of the clinic said. “It’s just like the doctor does only they can come every 30 days.”
The clinic, the only free clinic in Gallia County, began as an idea in the minds of Dr. Mel Simon and Paul Sebastian, Ph.D., as a means to provide free medical care to the underinsured and uninsured in the county. In February of 2009, the first organizational meeting of the free clinic was held with volunteers in the community attending.
After months of planning, the clinic was dedicated on July 23, 2009, and the first clinic was held on Aug. 27, 2009, at the Hillcrest Clinic on Pinecrest Drive in Gallipolis.
Presently, the clinic is open from 1-4 p.m. on the last Thursday of each month, barring inclement weather and major holidays. Three medical doctors, one chiropractor and five registered nurses are on hand during each clinic to examine patients and many medical health professionals throughout the county have volunteered their time to the clinic over the past year. Some counseling services are also available.
Free medical examinations are given strictly to patients that are 18 years of age and older who are uninsured residents of Gallia County. Residents who have Medicare part A are also eligible.
Donations are a large part of what has made the clinic possible since much of the medical equipment has been donated and the cost of office supplies and utility bills have been covered by donated funds from area businesses and community organizations.
Polly Wetherholt, a volunteer at the clinic and retired registered nurse, explained that donations from the community are what keep the clinic up and running.
“That’s how we survive,” Wetherholt said. “From donations from the community.”
An event Saturday at Grace United Methodist Church, brought together women from 10 different churches throughout the area and during the event, donations were accepted with proceeds going to the free clinic.
Volunteers are at the core of the clinic as well.
“I read something, ‘there’s nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer’ and I really like that, because that’s what we do,” said Barb Epling, who is also a retired RN and volunteer at the clinic.
For information call (740) 446-0023 or e-mail the clinic volunteers at firstname.lastname@example.org.