‘Saving Grace’ hits churches, radio

Anthony Gonzalez Staff Reporter

November 20, 2013

Grace Clinic advocates are spearheading an effort called “Saving Grace” and are taking to the airwaves and pews.

Announcements will be held today courtesy of WIFM radio 100.9. A “love offering” throughout tri-county churches will be collected on Sunday.

Radio listeners will be asked to pledge support for the clinic. Church officials are asking their members to donate as much as they can.

The fundraising appeal is quickly becoming a local movement, said church officials taking part in the appeal.

The clinic recently has seen a shift to its top executive and board chair after a budget shortfall was realized.

Sue Myers was named as interim executive director.

The Grace Clinic Board of Directors also announced a new chairperson, Steve Newman.

Staff was downsized.

According to Grace Clinic, it will take about $46,000 to make it to the end of the year. However, with the cash-on-hand and grants expected, the clinic is short $4,117.45.

The first quarter of 2014 will be challenging for the clinic. Some grant opportunities are not readily available due to a paperwork filing snafu. Since, board directors have shifted its approach to grants and are more hands-on with its development.

The board also announced the placement of a grant specialist known for working with free medical clinics. Two board members privately donated the fee associated with hiring the specialist.

The board expects to recover and have its funding in full order after the first quarter of next year.

In the meanwhile, fundraisers are now vital in order to keep the clinic operating and doors open.

At the radio station, Physician Assistant Mary Keller of Grace Clinic will provide testimonials of patients who have found services provided by Grace Clinic necessary.

One patient is a college student at Surry Community College and developed diabetes ultimately leading in lifesaving intervention by placing the patient on insulin.

Another patient had an abnormality in her uterus that was diagnosed as uterine cancer. The patient had a hysterectomy to save her life.

Most of the patients who rely on Grace Clinic are between the ages of 18 and 64 and have no health insurance. The patients are living below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.

The clinic does not only service Elkin. Residents from Ronda, Boonville, Jonesville, Dobson, and as far away as Yadkinville, and even Mount Airy walk into the clinic.

“If this clinic shuts down, we worry that patients will use the local hospital emergency room as an option for health care, or not get it at all,” said Myers, interim director. “That’s what we’re trying to avoid.”

“Without insulin, we will see a crisis,” said Sharon Kallam, RN for the clinic.

“Hypertension will increase. People need access to medication,” said Sam Allen, who coordinates the medication access program.

“Last year we saw almost 1,500 patients from three counties. I have patients who are homeless. I have patients who have master’s degrees, but can’t find work. I have patients who work two or three jobs, take care of children and elderly family members, and do not have the time or resources to take care of themselves,” said Keller. “One woman died from a myocardial infarction one week before her cardiology appointment, for which she had been waiting for three months. Many wait years to be awarded disability. Some cannot overcome their substance abuse. Some end up in intensive care because they resist going to the ER for fear of receiving a bill they can’t pay.”

One hundred fifty churches have been notified of the funding crisis and are activating efforts to help the clinic stay open. Love offerings throughout the tri-county are being collected on Sunday.

“We are passing the basket for this one. We have lots of members who rely on the services provided by Grace Clinic. Families are without insurance or are one step away from not having it,” said the Rev. Jeanette Hayes of the Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church. Hayes is also the reverend at Piney Grove United Methodist Church.

“I think right now that all hands must be on deck for Grace Clinic. With such a need for jobs and those who lost lost jobs, without means for insurance will lead to a crisis,” said the Rev. Dale Cline of St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Mount Airy. “We just took an offering by our church in Mount Airy last Sunday. The basket was healthy.”

Cline said that an additional offering will be asked at Christ Lutheran Church in Jonesville this Sunday.

Pastor Rick Bennett of the First Baptist Church of Elkin said that they went straight to the check.

“Our church missions department opted to write an immediate check,” said Bennett.

“To lose the Grace Clinic would be a huge catastrophy,” said Pastor Stuart Taylor of the Elkin Presbyterian Church.

“This is about helping the working poor,” said Myers.

Checks can be made payable to Grace Clinic. Contributions may be delivered to the clinic or mailed. The clinic is located at 170 Claremont Drive in Elkin.

Grace Clinic also indicated a Paypal button has been placed on its website — www.graceclinicnc.org — allowing for community contributions for the non-profit clinic.

Reach Anthony Gonzalez at 835-1513 or agonzalez@civitasmedia.com.