Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Lifestyles

March 24, 2014

Help needed to keep Rural Health Clinic open

CROSSVILLE — Let's ask for a show of hands. How many have ever heard of the Rural Health Clinic of the Cumberlands? It’s located at 9400 Sparta Hwy., Crossville, just a short distance from the entrance to the city of Pleasant Hill.

Dr. Harold Lowe is the medical director and his wife, Diana, is the executive director. They started the clinic in 2006 to provide primary health care in Cumberland and White counties plus Monterey in Putnam County for those who are uninsured or underinsured adults. They now serve more than 800 adult patients and employ five people. Low-cost office visits are provided along with patient education, labs, X-rays and a prescription assistance program. Most of their patients have little or no income, but nobody is turned away for lack of money.

So as the story about the clinic is told, it is necessary to say that unless they get some financial backing and some new medical providers, the clinic may close in the next few months. They depend on a Safety Net grant and a grant from United Fund. This actually provides one half of their budget. The rest of their money comes from patient fees, donations and fund raising. They deeply worry about their current patients if the clinic closes.

It is estimated that Rural Health Clinic provides more than $1 million worth of quality, outpatient care annually thanks to the support of volunteers. For every $1 donated from the community, they are able to provide $70 of medical assistance to a fellow human in need.

Many chronic conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and respiratory conditions require long-term medications and other medical supplies. The clinic’s healthcare providers and patient advocates are available to assist patients in obtaining medications directly from the pharmaceutical companies without cost to them. Qualification is based on income.

Rural Health Clinic of the Cumberlands is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization so donations are tax deductible. They are constantly applying for grants through the efforts of Nurse Ruth Ann McKay. Professional volunteers in medicine, grant writing, nursing, nutrition, physical therapy, dental, chiropractic, social service, office work, counseling and fund raising are always in need to join the clinic team. Part- and full-time volunteers are most welcome, and the services of part- or full-time professional medical doctors are desperately needed.

The clinic plans to help patients get covered by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) if they qualify. However, many of their patients are below the poverty line. This is an extremely serious problem in Tennessee due to a decrease in Medicaid services. The Rural Health Clinic’s goal is to provide low cost quality medical care to uninsured persons in the community.

Affordable quality health care is a big need for many of the community neighbors. Many patients are barely providing for their families basic needs. Without the clinic, these individuals rely on emergency rooms for primary care services, or worse, delay care until they have a medical crisis. Many patients are grateful for the clinic and credit them with saving their life.

Now you have learned about the Rural Health Clinic, please give some very serious consideration about how you can help. Volunteers with any medical background should call the number listed below and make an appointment to learn more. If you are a retired physician or a PA and still have the urge to help a sick person get well, give them a call. Anyone who has experience writing grants should call McKay at the clinic to discuss needs. If you can afford a financial donation, please help the clinic continue their valuable work. And, if you are an uninsured person who needs to see a doctor, don’t hesitate to make an appointment before the ailment gets critical.

Office hours for the Rural Health Clinic of the Cumberlands, Inc., are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday and Wednesday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. Visits are by appointment only, so please call 277-5992. More information can be learned from their website at http:rhccinc.org.

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