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Free clinic not taking new patients until 2010

October 16, 2009

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- On track to see more than 3,000 patients this year, the Eastern Panhandle Free Clinic has frozen eligibility screening until January 2010 in order to meet existing demand for services, including flu season needs, organization officials said Friday.

"Our goal is to provide quality comprehensive care to all of our patients, but this can only be met by ensuring timely care," said Michele Goldman, the clinic's executive director in a news release.

"We are currently recruiting new volunteer physicians and hope to add an additional physician to our staff by the end of the year," she added.

The clinic in Ranson now operates with two full-time nurse practitioners and seven part-time volunteer physicians.

Additional staff would allow the clinic to serve the rising number of patients with a limited wait time between visits. The clinic has increased patient services to more than 2,700 patients, an increase of 1,000 patients since January 2008, officials said in the news release.

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Individuals already scheduled for a clinic appointment are not affected by the freeze and current patient care will continue as normal, spokesperson Stacie Rohn said Friday.

If individuals keep the appointments they already have made, the clinic will exceed 3,000 patients this year, Rohn said.

Eligibility screening for new patients will resume Jan. 2, according to the announcement.

The clinic is administering seasonal flu shots and will begin administering the H1N1 vaccine as soon as it is received.

Established in 2001 as Charles Town Health Right Inc., the clinic is a nonprofit organization that provides primary care, specialist referrals, diagnostic testing, prescription assistance, counseling, and health promotion and education programs.

The clinic is supported through grants and public and private contributions from individuals, businesses, and state and local government.

All clinic patients will have the opportunity to receive the vaccination. More information about the Eastern Panhandle Free Clinic is available at www.easternpanhandlefreeclinic.com or by calling 304-724-6091.

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