Free clinic ‘not officially closed’

Official says Rockingham facility has “halted operations temporarily”

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

ROCKINGHAM — Leaders of a nonprofit health and dental clinic in Rockingham are courting a local physician who might be interested in taking over the operations. Until that happens — if it happens — the doors will remain locked and services will be unavailable.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

The Compassionate Care Free Clinic, a nonprofit health care provider that offers free health and dental services to those unable to pay for services, has been shuttered. The facility, located at 1009 E. Washington St., recently modified its hours from being open three days a week to two, and abbreviated hours at that. That wasn’t good enough, and the door has been locked.

Sources indicate the clinic closed without notifying patients and other health care providers.

Reached Friday evening through a third party who has helped raise funds for the clinic, Executive Director Kalissia Bennett wrote in an email to The Pee Dee Post that the clinic, though shuttered, “has not officially closed.”

“We have halted operations temporarily since September as we work to possibly transition the operations over to a local physician who has shown interest in running the clinic,” Bennett wrote. “We continue to work to make sure that the indigent population in Richmond (County) have access to medical care as much as we are able. The clinic operates solely on volunteers and generous donations and we are grateful for people in the community … who see and will support the need for this free clinic.”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com There is no sign on the door of the Compassionate Care Free Clinic indicating that officials have "halted operations temporarily." It's not clear if patients were ever told.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
There is no sign on the door of the Compassionate Care Free Clinic indicating that officials have “halted operations temporarily.” It’s not clear if patients were ever told.

The published phone number for the clinic — 910-410-9349 — rings several times until a answering machine picks up. Callers can not leave a message as the machine’s memory is at capacity.

The clinic’s Facebook page has not been updated since July — the last post being a public service announcement on asthma awareness. There is no mention of the clinic’s current status nor what its future might be.

The clinic, staff and volunteers alike, have asked a lot of the Richmond County community. Through grants and fundraisers — including the Care Walk, fashion shows, charity auctions and benefit dinners — private donations have helped to keep the facility open.

It’s not the first time the clinic has closed due to an apparent lack of funds. It reopened in February 2013 after an unknown period of closure.

Bennett said that “we hope to have more news at the beginning of the year.”

Bennett did not respond within 48 hours to a follow-up email that contained a number of questions asking about the general operation of the organization — including annual operating budget, funding sources, the makeup of the board of directors and more. Bennett also did not specify how, exactly, clinic officials are helping to ensure patients have access to medical and dental care; nor did she respond to the question about whether or not patients were notified of the status of the clinic.

The Rockingham location still is listed on the list of free clinics by the North Carolina Association of Free Clinics. Other nearby free clinics include the Moore Care Free Clinic in Southern Pines and the Scotland Community Health Clinic in Laurinburg.

The association boats 81 members — “one of the largest networks of free clinics in the country — each of which, according to its website, is “a private, nonprofit, community-based organization that provides medical care at little or no charge to low-income, uninsured and underinsured persons through the use of volunteer health care professionals and partnerships with other health providers.”

The clinic also remains listed by the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics.

 

 

 

With that being said, we hope to have more news at the beginning of the year.
Filed in: Featured News, Health, Latest Headlines, News, Rockingham

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