So many organizations and businesses are celebrating milestone anniversaries this year — Mountain Valley Hospice and Palliative Care and Greater Mount Airy Habitat for Humanity are just two.
Another organization which serves a great purpose in our community is having a milestone birthday in 2013, with 20 years of service. Surry Medical Ministries.
Last week at the Pilot Mountain Civic Club meeting, Mount Airy resident and ministries volunteer Millie Beal updated the club members on what the organization does and how it has been serving the community for 20 years.
She explained that in 2012, the clinic had 2,749 patient encounters, in which a patient was seen by a doctor or nurse.
That is an amazing number when you realize that the clinic is open just one day a week for about six hours — each Tuesday from 3 to 9 p.m. And it’s dental clinic operates just one day each month.
What is even more amazing is, with the exception of the one part-time registered nurse who serves as coordinator of the clinic, all of the people who work the clinic are volunteers. Let me repeat that, all of the people — the doctors, nurses, pharmacists, pharmacy techs, and others like lay people who help check in patients — are volunteers.
Those medical personnel work their regular full-time jobs and then in the afternoons and nights each Tuesday they offer their services free of charge to make the clinic a success and to make sure the people who wouldn’t otherwise get non-emergency basic medical attention can be seen.
Beal explained that the clinic, which was just the fourth of its kind and the most rural in North Carolina to join the North Carolina Association of Free Clinics in 1993, serves those who are uninsured and the working poor. Now, there are 70 clinics that are members of the NCAFC.
The cost to operate the clinic? More than $100,000 a year, of which the good majority is used to pay for medications — 7,578 prescriptions were filled by clinic pharmacists last year, many which were maintenance medications for conditions like high blood pressure.
Northern Hospital of Surry County does the diagnostics and labs at the clinic for free, Beal said, which keeps operating costs down. But she said that service by the hospital also helps keep those patients from crowding the emergency room.
When asked by a club member where the funding comes from for the expenses at the clinic, Beal said it comes from private donations, citizens and businesses, United Fund of Surry, and clubs and groups like the civic club, which includes the clinic in its annual donations to area nonprofits.
Of the benefits of the clinic, Beal said, “It is just good old-fashioned medicine without all the red tape (paperwork). I think that’s why everyone enjoys coming to work so much.”
Wendy Byerly Wood is the associate editor of The Mount Airy News. She can be reached at email@example.com or 719-1923.