DOBSON — An Elkin healthcare clinic asked Surry County commissioners to consider aiding its efforts with taxpayer dollars Monday evening.
Grace Clinic, founded in 2005, provides free medical care to patients without health insurance, according to the clinic’s board chairman Steve Newman. Services are extended to those at or below 200 percent of the national poverty level.
“Last year we saw 441 patients,” said Newman. “Sometimes it’s just heart-breaking to see all the people with nowhere else to turn (for healthcare).”
Hugh Quinn, the clinic’s executive director, indicated the clinic provided nearly $1.7 million in cost-free medical care in the last calendar year.
Quinn said many patients serviced at Grace would have likely otherwise shown up at Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital for a costly emergency visit. Instead, Grace Clinic provides patients with access to a primary care physician in order to treat both long-term and acute illnesses.
Though the clinic provides folks with free healthcare, Quinn said it’s not filled with free-loaders.
“These are very poor people,” said Quinn. “Many of them are working poor who are working jobs with no benefits.
“The Affordable Healthcare Act doesn’t make healthcare affordable to these people.”
Quinn said a physician’s assistant is on duty during normal operating hours at the clinic, and local doctors supplement staffing through volunteering their time. Grace Clinic employees six people on a part-time basis, and reaps the benefits of having about 35 volunteers.
The clinic asked commissioners for $6,000 during this fiscal year and another $6,000 throughout the next. Quinn said the funds will go a long way in supporting the organization, which operates on about a $227,000 annual budget.
The largest contribution to the clinic’s finances is a $110,000 grant from the N.C. Office of Rural Health, according to Quinn. Grace Clinic also receives funding from the Yadkin Valley and Yadkin County United Funds. Other local entities which donate to the clinic are the Winston-Salem Foundation and a number of local churches.
Quinn said the two $6,000 requests to Surry County are the first requests he has made to local governmental bodies.
“About half our patients are from Surry County, and we are located in Elkin,” explained Quinn. “We thought the right place to start was Surry County.”
If the Surry County board approves the clinic’s request, Quinn said he will likely take a similar request before the Yadkin County board.
However, it appears Quinn and the clinic will wait until the budget for next fiscal year, which begins in July, is approved for their answer.
“If you would, make your financial request with the county manager,” said board Chairman R.F. “Buck” Golding. “We are starting the budget process soon.”
Grace Clinic is located on the second floor of the Revival building located at 110 Dutchman Court in Elkin. Those in search of more information can reach clinic staff at 336-835-1467.
Andy is a staff writer and can be reached at 415-4698.