Eastern Panhandle Free Clinic gets new home

July 21, 2009|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- It's the dark blue tile floor that sets things apart in the new headquarters of the Eastern Panhandle Free Clinic.

There are enough of the one-foot square tiles to cover 2,500 square feet of room, hallway and corridor space -- slightly more than one third of the 6,600 square feet in the building that formerly was home to a satellite branch of East Ridge Health Systems in Martinsburg, W.Va.

The tiles, with their porcelain finish, were bought at bargain-basement prices and obtained along with free cabinetry, desks, furniture and office equipment from the World Vision Center, a Mennonite-run facility in Philippi, W.Va.

"We even got some medical equipment," said Michele Goldman, executive director of the free clinic. "Everything has fallen into place."

The clinic moved to its new building July 13 from 11065 Middleway Pike in Charles Town, its home of 2,400 square feet for the last seven years.


The monthly rent of $4,000 -- up from $1,600 in the former building -- will raise the clinic's budget to $600,000.

Panhandle residents between the ages of 19 years old and 65 years old with no health insurance who fall between the cracks for primary medical care rely on the clinic. Among the 2,400 clients the clinic sees each year are workers who lost their jobs and health insurance due to the economy, single working mothers and college students.

Very poor children and adults have Medicaid and don't use the clinic's services, Goldman said.

Goldman said the added space has enabled her to add two much-needed, full-time staff members -- an administrative assistant and a medical assistant -- bringing to 10 the number of full-time employees. Two employees work part time.

The clinic handles 900 patient visits a month, "and it's growing," Goldman said.

It operates with a physician who serves as medical director, two registered nurses, two nurse practitioners, two pharmacy technicians and volunteer counselors.

More than 200 volunteers donate their time to the clinic, Goldman said.

A major role for the clinic is providing hands-on training for nursing and social work students who are on degree tracks in area colleges and universities. There is a teaching room on the premises.

The larger building provides space for a conference room, three administrative offices, eight examination rooms, a counseling office, offices for medical providers, a kitchen, adequate storage, and more admission and waiting room areas.

Another plus, Goldman said, is that the new location will bring increased visibility to the clinic.

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