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Free Clinic visits surpass 10,000 in 2000

February 14, 2001

Free Clinic visits surpass 10,000 in 2000



By MARLO BARNHART / Staff Writer


The number of patient visits recorded at the Community Free Clinic in Hagerstown rose to 10,142 last year.

The rise from 8,300 patient visits in 1999 is partly due to the 1,100 Medicare patients who have no prescription benefits and who come to avail themselves of the clinic's new assistance program, according to Jeff Downin, executive director.

"We are gratified that we can serve that many people," he said.

The prescription program is funded by allocations from the Washington County Gaming Commission.

"Still, my impression is our regular base continues to be transients, children and many working poor who can't afford health insurance," Downin said.

One change this year that is causing some concern is a tightening in federal laws which no longer allow the clinic to use expired medications as a way to cut costs.

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"Before, we could use them for one year after the expiration date," Downin said. "But we're not comfortable with that anymore."

Overall, regulatory requirements continue to increase but efforts to gain exemptions for free clinics are ongoing, Downin said.

Downin says the clinic's commitment to providing health care, the leadership that guides the clinic and especially the many dedicated volunteers, bolster his confidence.

The volunteers and others will be recognized at the clinic's second annual gala to be held March 11 at the Four Points Hotel.

Now in its 11th year of operation, the Community Free Clinic will see any uninsured resident of Washington County at its 18 W. Franklin St. location. Primary health care is provided along with extensive medication assistance.

The clinic was open 237 days in 2000. In addition to regular provider and nurse clinics, special clinics for diabetes monitoring, ob-gyn, orthopedic care and podiatry are available.

Dwayne Shrader is the new president of the clinic's board of directors. Dr. Martin Gallagher, founder of the clinic, is president emeritus.

Other officers are the Rev. Charles McGinley, vice president; Donovan Bachtell, treasurer; and the Rev. Don Stevenson, secretary. Board members are Carol Easton, David Engle, Christine Feathers, Jay Frantz, Dr. William Kerns, Carol Mendelsohn, Lewis Metzner, Dr. George Newman, Bennett Rubin, William Ryder, Jennifer Sherman and Darryl Slack.

Those interested in contributing time or money to the clinic may call 301-733-9234.

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