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Community free clinic to hold dance to raise funds

June 01, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

Lorri Rice wants people to gamble on the future of the Community Free Clinic, literally.

"We're having a casino night and dance July 9 at the Venice Inn to help raise funds to keep the clinic door's open," Rice said.

Tickets are $15 per person and $25 per couple and are available at the clinic at 18 W. Franklin St.

Tickets entitle holders to play tip jars, roulette and blackjack. Door prizes will be awarded, hot and cold appetizers will be served, and music will be provided by a DJ from Soundations. A cash bar will be open. Hours are 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.

This is the latest in an effort to make sure the Community Free Clinic remains open. Its clientele includes 46 percent of the medically uninsured people in Washington County.

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"We need $20,000 a month to stay open," Rice said of the 9-year-old clinic founded by Dr. Martin Gallagher, who is the clinic's board president.

Director since November, Rice said she worries all the time about funding.

"I worry but our patients are terrified," Rice said.

The Community Free Clinic does not bill any of the 8,000 patients who are seen each year.

"Our only criteria is that we can only see patients who have no insurance," Rice said.

Because of that, the Community Free Clinic gets referrals and support from the Washington County Health Systems and the Washington County Health Department.

"We are the only place that provides free prescriptions and free lab work - about $2,000 a month for prescriptions and $4,000 for the lab work," Rice said. "That is vital to many people."

A United Way agency, the Community Free Clinic also gets financial support from churches, service organizations, the Washington County Gaming Commission and individuals.

Rice said she can't understand why the Community Free Clinic doesn't get more support from city and county government.

In mid-April, the clinic failed to win a grant from the Washington County Commissioners, Rice said.

"We don't begrudge other worthwhile organizations from getting funds but we don't understand why we get passed over," Rice said. "This community should be so proud that it has such a clinic that cares for its poor."

Physicians provide care at the clinic, working with four full-time staff members and about 150 volunteers.

Office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Services are on a first-come, first-serve basis.

A daily nurse clinic is held for blood pressure and other medical checks. Physician clinics are held on Monday, Tuesday and Friday when volunteer doctors are available, and specialized clinics are held.

Those with questions about specific clinics, times and other services may call 301-733-9234.

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