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Free clinic gets support from Morgan County

February 09, 2008|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - The Eastern Panhandle Free Clinic will receive $1,000 from Morgan County to help continue its health-care services to uninsured, low-income residents.

The Morgan County Commission unanimously approved the funds at Thursday's meeting.

Michele Goldman, director of the clinic in Charles Town, W.Va., said the clinic serves all of the Eastern Panhandle and provides services to residents who are unable to obtain access to health care through existing programs. Its services include medical examinations, diagnostic testing, prescription assistance, counseling and specialist referrals.

The clinic's 28 volunteer specialists will see patients in its offices in Berkeley and Jefferson counties and even Winchester, Va., Goldman said.

There are no physicians from Morgan County yet, Goldman said.

Commissioner Brenda J. Hutchinson said the commission agreed Thursday to talk with Morgan County War Memorial Hospital and doctors in the county to see if they would be interested in providing services in cooperation with the clinic.

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"We are always looking for financial assistance and physicians to volunteer to help anyone that needs assistance in the Eastern Panhandle," Goldman said.

If a patient needs hospital laboratory work, patients are sent to Jefferson Memorial Hospital in Ranson, W.Va., or City Hospital in Martinsburg, W.Va., as part of the WVU Hospitals-East charity care program.

Goldman said the clinic provides all of the medicine for 184 diabetic patients and monitors them "to try to keep people working."

"This also helps them from developing more serious illnesses that might require hospitalization, which ultimately keeps health-care costs down for all of us," she said.

Theresa Ricks said she was a former clinic patient and now is a board member of the clinic.

"I was a patient and heard about the clinic through word of mouth," Ricks said. "I had no health care. They welcomed me. I never paid a dime. I was treated with dignity."

The clinic opened six years ago, and has seen more than 2,000 patients, Goldman said.

"It's the best job I've ever had," she said.

The Eastern Panhandle Free Clinic is a nonprofit United Way Agency. For more information, go to www.easternpanhandlefreeclinic.com.

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