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Free Clinic earns honor for making impact

November 17, 2004|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - The Community Free Clinic on Tuesday was awarded the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce's Impact Award for nonprofit organizations.

One thing that made the clinic "stand out was the fact that they are helping people who have no place else to turn and their lives could be very detrimentally affected if they didn't get that help," said Frank Erck, one of the judges for the award and a loan officer with Mercantile Mortgage LLC.

Erck said that could be true of any nonprofit.

The Community Foundation of Washington County MD Inc. gave the winner a check for $1,000, which the clinic's executive director, Robin Roberson, said will go toward patient care.

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"We're very honored," she said at the event held at Four Points Sheraton on Dual Highway.

The clinic recently moved from West Franklin Street to 249 Mill St.

While many people think the clinic serves only the poor and homeless, that's not true, Roberson told the more than 60 people attending the breakfast event.

The clinic serves anyone who is uninsured, including people between jobs and young adults, such as college students, who are no longer eligible under their parents' health insurance, Roberson said.

Most of the clinic's patients work full time, she said.

Roberson said 50 medical providers such as doctors and nurse practitioners provide services at the clinic. The 100 physicians who network with the clinic may not all come into the clinic to provide services, but they serve clinic patients in their offices, she said.

The clinic also has volunteers who help with filing, answering phones, sorting pills and other duties, Roberson said.

The major factor in determining a winner is the impact the program had on the community, said Bradley N. Sell, executive director for the Community Foundation. The foundation promotes philanthropy in the county.

The clinic, which opened in 1990, had 10,004 patient visits in 2003, Roberson said. The clinic dispensed more than $1.3 million in prescription medication last year.

This was the second time the chamber gave an Impact Award at its Focus on Philanthropy event.

Last year, Brook Lane won the award for its "theme of the day" program that focuses children and adolescents on different themes, such as how to deal with aggression or peer pressure, Chief Executive Officer Lynn Rushing said.

Brook Lane spent its $1,000 award on materials for the program, Rushing said.

The other finalists for this year's award were Children's Village of Washington County, Homewood Retirement Centers, Deafnet, Mason-Dixon Council Boy Scouts of America, YMCA of Hagerstown, Boys & Girls Clubs of Washington County and the Washington County Commission on Aging.

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