Executive Director Barbara Earle said that while the clinic enjoys having plenty of space in the old health department building, the organization will be able to save money on overhead costs in the new location. The clinic will be moving to the new location on Jan. 28 and will re-open on Feb. 1.
“We’re taking over some medical office space at 101B John Maddox Drive,” Earle said. “But we’re still within the city limits on the bus line, and it’s a more traditional office space, and we will have the building by ourselves.”
During the past year the clinic topped more than 4,000 visits, up from the more than 3,400 visits Earle said the clinic saw in 2011. Overall, that added up to more than 600 patients, up by 100 patients more than in 2011. Earle explained that having a nurse practitioner on staff for 32 hours a week allowed for the clinic to see more people.
“It’s good for our regular enrolled patients, because in the past if they woke up sick or with the flu they didn’t have the opportunity to be seen here at the clinic,” she said. “Now we’re better able to handle seeing patients for small emergencies and acute sickness.”
However, the Free Clinic of Rome still maintains their policy of only seeing people after they show inability to receive some kind of health insurance, whether government-sponsored or private.
“We have patients who have been coming for four to five years and this is their medical care, still uninsured,” said Earle. “A lot of our patients have part time or a couple of part time jobs and don’t have the ability to get health insurance.”
The Free Clinic of Rome’s access to care isn’t just about providing health services to the uninsured. It also strives to get involved in the daily health of their patients by providing free classes on the effects of chronic illnesses like high blood pressure and diabetes and even about healthy eating.
Earle said these programs have provided better quality of life for the patients and improvement in overall health care services.
“They get stable and understand that they have to take their medicine and they can’t ignore their health,” Earle said. “They’re empowered because they have control over their health.”
A nonprofit, most of the revenue for the organization is generated through donations and grants, which Earle said she is still looking for to help expand the programs and services they provide to more people.
The clinic back in December benefited from one such grant from Walmart, which donated $10,000 each to 120 different nonprofit organizations. “Though we think we deserved it, we’re still very honored to have received the money,” Earle said. “And it just goes to show the power of social media and how people going onto Facebook and simply liking our page can make a difference.”
The Free Clinic of Rome is still however looking for donations to help make ends meet and will continue to accept checks in the mail from those who want to help until Jan. 28 at 315 W. 10th St.