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Despite $50,000 from county, clinic can't take on new patients

September 02, 2006|by TARA REILLY

HAGERSTOWN - A financially-strained free health-care clinic will receive $50,000 from the Washington County Commissioners, but the contribution won't be enough to allow the facility to begin accepting new patients.

Still, the clinic's executive director said the money will be a big help to the center's operating budget.

The County Commissioners on Tuesday voted to give the Community Free Clinic the one-time contribution, which is half of what the clinic requested.

The money will be applied toward the clinic's deficit of $130,000, clinic Executive Director Robin Roberson said Friday.

Roberson said the clinic is grateful for the contribution.

"It will help ... it certainly is a step in the right direction," Roberson said.

The clinic asked the commissioners for $100,000 in July. It stopped taking new patients July 1 because of financial constraints.

Since then, the clinic has had to place more than 100 people on a waiting list, Roberson said. Already established patients still are being seen.

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County Administrator Rodney M. Shoop said at Tuesday's meeting that a $100,000 contribution from the commissioners would not have been enough for the clinic to resume taking new patients.

Shoop and Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook, however, said more help could be on the way for the clinic. They said the City of Hagerstown is considering giving the facility $50,000.

Roberson said the clinic might know more details after Tuesday's Hagerstown City Council meeting.

The clinic provides free medical care, prescription medicine and lab work to uninsured residents of Hagerstown and Washington County.

Many of the clinic's clients work full time, but either cannot afford to pay health-care premiums or their employers don't offer insurance.

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