elkintribune.com

Grace Clinic approved for AG funding

By Anthony Gonzalez agonzalez@civitasmedia.com

May 2, 2014

A local clinic, which revamped its management team after discovering its finances had been drained, received respite from the office of Attorney General Roy Cooper.


According to Steve Newman, chairman of Grace Clinic Board of Directors, the state has approved $23,500, which amounts to 10 percent of the annual budget for the charity health clinic.


Grace Clinic services low-income residents living below the poverty level and lacking medical insurance. The clinic is located at 170 Claremont Drive.


“The Tri-County Health Resource Center of Elkin will get a grant of $23,500 from our office to help Grace Clinic provide medications, medical supplies and direct care to uninsured adults,” said Noelle Talley, public information officer for Attorney General Roy Cooper.


According to Talley, the grant is made possible by possible by court cases and legal settlements won by the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division.


“Consumer protection court orders and settlements often include direct refunds to consumers and require defendants to give up their ill-gotten profits. In cases where funds cannot be returned directly to consumers, the court may order that the money go to programs that benefit consumers who were harmed by the unlawful acts or for general consumer protection purposes. Our office established the Consumer Protection Grants program to help award those funds to deserving projects.” said Talley.


Last September, the Grace Clinic board found themselves sinking into a financial pitfall after its former executive director dropped the ball on routinely securing funds like what was provided by Cooper’s office. On Sept. 30, 2013, the clinic discovered that funds were not available to meet payroll obligations.


The Grace Clinic board pushed out the former executive director, cut staff, phone lines and days of operation were cut down to only two days per week. A “Saving Grace” campaign was initiated to solicit community support in hopes the community blitz would generate funds to keep the clinic doors open. The board hired a grant specialist with expertise in solicitation of funding. The recent state funding and receipt of support by charity foundations and anonymous donors are indicators that Grace Clinic is beginning to recover.


“We will recover. It was bleak about a month ago, but we were very fortunate for things to work out with the recent funding,” said Newman. “We’ve made major changes along the way. Its been a difficult journey. We had to scale back services through July…We have received funding to get through July. That’s better compared to not having anything at all.”


Newman said dark times are still ahead, however, the community should feel confident on the belt-tightening approach by Grace Clinic and the clinic’s strong willpower.


“One has to be pleased with the effort and how people have rallied for Grace Clinic. There is no waste here. Regarding funding, we need more time. We need funding support beyond July….There are discussions about opening up an extra day. No decision has been made on it,” said Newman.


Mary Ford Keller, the familiar physician’s assistant and advocate for Grace Clinic, was ushered in last month as interim executive director. “Right now we are not in a position to appoint a full time executive director,” said Newman. “Mary wears many hats. She’s been great. The volunteers for the clinic have been tremendous too. The support is fantastic.”


The methodical and conservative approach to spending and focus on patient care appears to be helping Grace Clinic get back on track.


On April 3, the North Carolina Association of Free Clinics (NCAFC) awarded Grace Clinic “Most Improved” for their 2013 Quality Improvement Program for their work in QI activities and percent improvement on health outcomes measures.


The NCAFC Quality Improvement Program tracks results for diabetes and hypertension patients on a quarterly basis. Statistics of all member clinics are collected, analyzed, and published by the NCAFC each fall.


“We are making progress. We are in dire need of continued support. We’ll keep pushing,” said Newman.


Grace Clinic is a ministry of Tri-C Health Resource Center, a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization. All contributions are tax-deductible.


Anthony Gonzalez may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @newsgonz.