Board appoints new chairman, interim director

Last updated: November 12. 2013 4:54PM - 2720 Views
Anthony Gonzalez Staff Reporter

Steve Newman is the newly elected chairman of the Grace Clinic Board of Directors. The clinic faces a budget shortfall Newman hopes to remedy.
Steve Newman is the newly elected chairman of the Grace Clinic Board of Directors. The clinic faces a budget shortfall Newman hopes to remedy.
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The executive director of a local medical clinic has been discharged amid a budget crisis that caused the clinic to restructure.

Grace Clinic Board of Directors released former executive director, Bob Spencer, on Sept. 30 after it learned that funds were not available to meet payroll obligations.

The clinic, at 170 Claremont Drive in Elkin, best known for servicing low-income residents living below the poverty level and lacking medical insurance, realized that compliance reports required by for N.C. Rural Health were delinquent. The delinquency caused a halt in funding to Grace Clinic.

Without vital funding, the clinic that was founded in 2005 would be at-risk of closure.

The funding shortfall has forced the clinic to reduce the number of staffers from nine to seven. The clinic expects another staffer to depart in November taking the total number of staff to six. The clinic relies heavily on its 24 volunteers.

The Grace Clinic Board of the Directors announced Sue Myers as its interim executive director. Myers also will double up as clinical manager for the facility.

The Grace Clinic Board of Directors also announced a new chairperson, Steve Newman. The former chairwoman, Jane Reynolds, remains on as an active member of the board.

Newman and Myers, along with board members Larry Irwin and John Freas, said Tuesday that Grace Clinic’s former executive director became distracted with an illness to a relative and failed to handle responsibilities relating to funding opportunities.

“We relieved him of his responsibilities and started the process of providing a remedy to the situation,” said Newman. “If you sum it all together, the demand and the need of the clinic grew at such a pace that the funding requested did not meet the funding needs of the clinic.”

Spencer was responsible for securing clinical funding and documentation for the clinic to be reimbursed.

According to Newman, a consultant specializing in free clinics was hired last year allowing for the board to consider some options and set goals with governance and its relationship with the executive director.

One proactive suggestion was to separate grant writing responsibilities solely on its executive director and hire a professional who focuses on newer funding streams.

“We have contracted with a highly recommended grant writer,” said Irwin. Two board members have agreed to compensate the grant writer with a private donation.

Freas said that Grace Clinic has reduced its monthly expenses from $29,145 to $23,000 during the transition.

“Currently, the clinic has a checking account balance of $8,061.80 and a savings balance of $820.75. Grace Clinic expects to receive $17,500 from N.C. Rural Health for October and November, $12,000 is expected from Byron Wolfe Foundation and $3,500 from the Yadkin County United Fund. The total resources provides $41,882.55 for the remainder of the year,” said Freas.

With about $46,000 needed to make it to the end of the year, after available resources come in, the money that is needed to operate for the remainder of the year is $4,117.45.

“This is not about running from the reality. This is where we are at and we are working hard at where we need to go,” said Newman.

Challenges lie ahead for the clinic. The severity of the problem is not necessarily limited to 2013.

“Our funding for 2014 is not yet secure,” said Irwin. “We hope to continue to receive funds from the Yadkin Valley United Fund, the Yadkin County United Fund, the N.C. Association of Free Clinics, and local churches, businesses and individuals.”

“Sure, these challenges are a wake up call for all of us. We all volunteer, but we realize that we have to run this place as a business. We have to roll up our sleeves. With that, I have to say that I have never worked with such a passionate and dedicated group of board members and staff of Grace Clinic. We will not close our doors. We will get through this situation,” said Newman.

“God is on our side,”said Irwin.

How the public can help

Grace Clinic announced Tuesday WIFM radio 100.9 will hold a “Saving Grace Radio-Thon” on Nov. 20.

“We are hoping that callers join in and pledge support. They can even drive to the station or the clinic and drop off checks,” said Irwin.

The clinic also has asked local churches throughout the service area (tri-county) to take up a “love offering” on Nov. 24 and relay the collection back to Grace Clinic to help raise the required amount.

Additional fundraising opportunities are being developed.

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

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