Free clinic needs help

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Dina Clower is executive director of the Free Clinic of the Twin Counties

 The Free Clinic of the Twin Counties needs your help. 

We are seeing a minimum of 20 new applicants per week who qualify as patients. The applicants are residents of Carroll, Grayson and the City of Galax and have been residents for a minimum of six months. They are totally uninsured and have household incomes of 125 percent, or less, of the federal poverty level.

That is $13,538 for a family of one, $18,213 for a family of two, $22,888 for a family of three, $27,563 for a family of four.

Applicants have diabetes, hypertension, heart conditions, Crohn's disease, thyroid complications and many life-threatening conditions. Many simply need prescriptions written and filled.

For many, it has been months or years since they were able to have vital medications. 

It will be December before we can get a new patient in. We are trying to see as many as we can, but that makes it more difficult for us to see current patients for return appointments or acute problems.

Recently, we have postponed patients' appointments because our providers were ill or could not be here. Many new patients waited months for that appointment and were devastated when told it would be a few more months before we could get them in. We even heard loud sobbing from some because their despair, pain and suffering would have to continue. Many of our patients are scared and do not know what to do.

We have a registered nurse volunteering to triage prospective patients. She obtains vital signs, patient history and medical records so that when the provider sees them for the first time, care can be provided in a timely manner.

Our volunteers most often find that patients are in need of immediate care. We have no appointments available to them for months.

They could go to an emergency department, or an urgent care facility, but most won't. They know if they do, they will incur a bill they cannot pay and in most cases they receive prescriptions they cannot pay for. Therefore, they are not helped.

Most will go only when it is a near-death situation.

The problem we see is that many of our patients are going to be at the point of death if we are not able to help them, and help them soon.

If you are a provider, I am crying out to you for help.

 I know you assist patients in your offices every day and are making a difference in our community, and I commend you for that. But I am asking, from one caring human being to another, please consider volunteering at the Free Clinic of the Twin Counties — one time a year, once a quarter or even once a month.

We have Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons from 1-5 available; Fridays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. available. We will even extend evening or weekend hours if it would help you to see these people.

Registered or licensed practical nurses, we also need your help. The Free Clinic always needs nurse volunteers and we will need more as providers begin to volunteer.

We also need people who will volunteer in our office. As we expand our hours, we will need more volunteers to answer the phone, help with filing, data entry, etc.

Please come by the clinic at 140 Larkspur Lane, Suite C, in Galax and fill out a volunteer application. Our office is open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. You may contact me at dina.clower@yahoo.com or 236-0421. Our Web page is at www.fcottc.org.

Of course, we always need donations. As our patient numbers continue to grow, we need more funding.

The non-profit Free Clinic is such a worthy cause and we are out there trying to make a difference in the lives of our community. 

You can make a positive impact in the lives of people right here in our own community. We need your help!

Thank you for considering our request for your help. May God lead your heart in this decision.