The clinic offers a primary health care office for Wayne County residents who are living at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines and who do not have access to other insurance. The clinic currently serves 2,000 patients in Wayne County and approximately 16,000 residents are eligible for services.
Jaime Parsons has been the executive director for two years. Since she took the position, there have been a significant amount of changes at the clinic. First, while some patients were able to make appointments for chronic conditions, the rest of the patients would line up outside of the clinic, regardless of the weather. Now, even a new patient can make an appointment, eliminating the lines.
The clinic will also unroll a new procedure for the majority of prescription medications. Starting Sept. 1, patients will be directed to one of the local pharmacies to receive their medications and will pay the $1.99 price for a month of medicine. Medications for some acute illnesses will still be available on-site. The clinic will be working with interested patients to educate on finances and budgeting.
“We don’t want our patients to go without their medication. We want to make sure they’re being taken care of, but we also want to be seen as not a handout, but a hand up,” said Parsons.
Another change at the clinic is the addition of a social worker. The social worker connects patients with other services in the community—instilling a sense of empowerment within the patients.
“What we’re finding is that our patients don’t only need medical care, they need wrap around services,” Parsons said. “There’s this slew of social issues that they’re dealing with. All of that contributes to their bad health, but it’s not a physical issue. So the social worker has really allowed us to take a look at their lives in a more holistic way and say, how can we really help you as a person?”
The words to the clinic’s story trail off into a more definite direction at this point. Aiming to improve quality of life and promote self-sufficiency ensure the clinic won’t be a permanent health care facility for the patients—just an excerpt from a more difficult part of their lives.
Another addition has been a new part-time nurse practitioner and volunteer dentist. The clinic added a phone call-in line for medication refills and continues to offer the walk-in clinic three times a week.
“This community has been incredibly generous toward the clinic and has really helped sustain it,” Parsons said.
Aside from primary care, the clinic also has a dermatologist, endocrinologist, physical therapist and mental health counselors. The clinic tries to avoid duplicating services and refers when necessary.
Further, the clinic is privately funded and dependent upon contributions from the community. It raises about $1 million each year through fundraising and grant efforts. The clinic has 357 volunteers and 15 staff members.
“We’re taking a step back as a board to say, how do we safeguard the core mission of the clinic, but also help our patients reach a point of self-sufficiency?” Parsons said.
New patients can call the Viola Startzman Free Clinic at 330-262-2500. From there, they will meet with the patient advocate, who explains the process and assures they qualify. A first appointment will then be scheduled. More information can be found on the website at www.startzmanfreeclinic.org. The clinic is also hosting a celebration in honor of its 17th anniversary and Viola Startzman’s 98th birthday on Sunday, June 10, from 2-5 p.m. Community members are welcome.
Published: June 6, 2012