Warren County free clinic trimmed but operating

Feb. 08, 2013 @ 06:32 PM

Declining financial support has forced the Warren County Free Clinic to reduce its staff and limit its services.

But it is surviving.

Executive Director Mary Somerville said, “We’re open five days a week and see patients three days a week.”

Financial support to the clinic has been coming from the Duke Endowment and the N.C. Rural Health Center, which Somerville said, “is just about exhausted.”

The staff has been cut in half. As a result, “We’ve scaled down our service.”

Beckford Avenue Medical Center in Henderson continues to provide medical services for the clinic. Dr. James Kenney serves as medical director. Dr. Francis Aniekwensi spends one or two days a week in the clinic, according to Somerville.

“We see about 4,000 patients a year, with 3,000 active at one time,” Somerville said.

The clinic uses volunteers to supplement the services of the paid staff.

The decline in financial support has required the clinic to look for new solutions to its budget problems. One approach is to step up solicitations for private donations. Some churches have responded to that appeal with contributions.

Somerville is also seeking support from corporations and foundations. She met recently with representatives of the foundations of two popular former University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill basketball standouts.

The Phil Ford Foundation was set up by the former UNC point guard who went on to a successful career in the National Basketball Association. Somerville talked with Ford and his cousin, Alex Ford, vice president of the foundation, about possible support from the foundation.

A representative from the James Worthy Foundation, another involving a former UNC and NBA standout, has also been contacted. Somerville met with John Maddox, executive director of the foundation, to discuss the needs of the clinic.

No promises were made by either foundation, Somerville said, but she is “optimistic.”

The Warren County Free Clinic provides primary care to low-income residents of Warren and Vance counties.

It was founded in 2006 by Somerville and Daria Holcomb and is located adjacent to the Health Department at 546 W. Ridgeway St. in Warrenton.

The clinic can be contacted at (252) 257-1904 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.