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Partnerships Result in New Clinic for Eastern Burke County

 

 

 

 

 

People living in rural areas with low incomes and no insurance find it more difficult than ever to access medical care. New initiatives need to reach out to our vulnerable neighbors.

One such initiative is now serving people living in eastern Burke County, North Carolina, an area that once prospered from the furniture and textile industries.

Change the old approach

The opening of the Good Samaritan East Clinic came from several organizations who shared this concern. Chaplain Dennis Stamper, who leads the FaithHealth program at Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge, studied ways to change the old “health fair” approach to reach people needing care.

After hosting a well-attended health fair at Oak Ridge Baptist Church, church member Susan Pollpeter concluded, “We desperately need a clinic in the eastern end of the county.”

Leaders at Oak Ridge Baptist sought to become more engaged in providing direct health care. They approached Steve Hurd, executive director of Good Samaritan Clinic located in Morganton, the county seat of Burke County.

Leaders at Oak Ridge Baptist sought to become more engaged in providing direct health care. They approached Steve Hurd, executive director of Good Samaritan Clinic located in Morganton, the county seat of Burke County.

A serious remodel

Action occurred quickly. Church volunteers remodeled a former sanctuary into a state-of-the-art outpatient medical clinic. Good Samaritan received a grant from the Office of Rural Health to staff a medical clinic with paid licensed professionals and volunteers from Oak Ridge. Oak Ridge received two grants from the Community Foundation of Burke County for computer and medical equipment.

Momentum continued. Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge and the Heineman Medical Outreach Foundation donated medical, office and laboratory equipment. Three local pharmacies contracted with the clinic so patients would pay only $4 per prescription. Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge agreed to provide diagnostic and specialty care, and Lab Corp agreed to provide laboratory services at no charge.

Thus, Good Samaritan Clinic East in Connelly Springs was born. In January 2017, the clinic opened one day per week. Two months later, the clinic expanded to two days per week, and it is looking forward to adding evening hours.

Good Samaritan East sees patients by appointment and also accepts walk-ins. Eligibility criteria include being a resident of Burke County, have low to moderate income, and no access to traditional or government-funded insurance. The clinic serves people between the ages of 18 and 64. Patients pay a $5 medical visit fee, which is waived for those with minimal financial resources. In addition to seeing a medical provider, patients can have their lab work performed in the office, receive prescriptions and the education they need to promote health — all in a single visit.

Shirley Lail, a retired nurse and Oak Ridge Baptist member who volunteers weekly at Good Samaritan East, speaks enthusiastically.

“This is a place where people can come and be cared for, where we are concerned about their health and well-being,” Lail said. “There’s a lot of education that goes on, too. People learn how to take care of their blood sugar or their blood pressure, understand the medications they are taking, and make sure they take them as prescribed.”

For additional information, contact steve.hurd.gsc@gmail.com.

 

 

 

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