The second article in the series of seven for Dr. Wendy Winn’s Seminar in Professional Writing was written by Bridgette Sturgill. It covers the topic of the Community Care Clinic and all the impact this nonprofit organization has brought to the High Country and what it needs to continue to help the community.
Community Care Clinic Seeks Financial Support to Expand Satellite Clinics in the High Country
By Bridgette Sturgill
The building that houses the Community Care Clinic may seem ordinary from an outside point of view, but entering the building opens up an entirely new prospect: a caring, healthy environment in which people can feel safe and secure.
The waiting room is lined with informational boards and pamphlets relating to health and wellness of the clinic’s patients. Pamphlets on dietary restrictions are pinned to an informational board, explaining with sugar cubes how much sugar is in certain popular snacks and drinks. These are just a few ways the clinic is working toward informing its patients about healthier lifestyles.
The Community Care Clinic’s philosophy is simple: it cares; but its service for the community is more complex and rooted deeply in compassion and for providing healthcare to uninsured people in the community.
There are many ways to help support its mission, but there’s one important opportunity coming up soon that you’re invited to join. If you are looking for a lot of fun, good times and a reason to pull out that island attire you have been eager to wear, be sure to attend the clinic’s annual Tiki Bash in May at the Apple Barn in Valle Crucis, which will raise money to support the organization’s mission in the community.
Community Care Clinic is located in a trifecta of Boone buildings that help provide a healthy, safe and nurturing environment for those in need in the community. Nestled between the Hunger and Health Coalition and the Hospitality House, CCC often works with both to create resources for families and individuals in the community.
The mission of CCC is to “provide healthcare to low-income persons in our community who do not have health insurance. Through disease prevention, continuity of care and active follow-up, we can promote the health and well-being of our community.”
What really motivates the people who work for and volunteer at CCC is helping those in need.
CCC Executive Director Melissa Selby is one of its many passionate workers. As a social worker for 30 years, she’s no stranger to helping families in need, and she takes that responsibility with stride, believing, as a social justice advocate, that healthcare is a right for all and not just for people who can afford it.
The CCC offers a variety of different recourses, such as health and fitness education, cooking classes and a resource coordinator who helps patients obtain basic needs like food and clothing. CCC believes that patient education and participation combined with detailed health care is the key reason for its patients’ successful outcomes.
Accordingly, the clinic is successful in providing care to the community in need. Still, however, Selby said she finds many people who are unfamiliar with the clinic and its work ask the same question: “Why do we still need a chartable clinic in the community?”
Well, that question can be answered with a statistic. The 2015 U.S. Census Bureau reported that nearly 5,600 adults in Watauga County are uninsured. The Affordable Care Act (also known as ACA or “Obamacare”) was initially designed to help provide health coverage for everyone. Unfortunately, as Selby said, states were given the choice to expand eligibility for healthcare, specifically Medicaid. North Carolina lawmakers declined, leaving many people without health insurance. This is where CCC found its function in the community, as well as its mission.
The clinic was the brainchild of Dr. Marian Peters and Dr. Jack Whitlock, who provided healthcare to Hospitality House clients but noticed a demand for a more permanent healthcare presence for the uninsured and underinsured in the area.
Fittingly, in 2006, Community Care Clinic was established. With the help of volunteers, the old health department building was prepared and renovated into a primary care clinic. When it first opened, CCC only operated three hours a week functioned as a primary care clinic and had about 100 patients. Now, it serves 7,200 patients and Melissa anticipates that it will continue to grow, along with the services it offers.
CCC also offers specialty care for its patients, such as mental health services, gynecology, neurology, chiropractic care, physical therapy, orthopedics and dermatology. It has also partnered with Appalachian Dental Care and Western Carolina Eye Associates to allow its patients referrals for limited dental and vision care. Spanish interpretation is available on request through a partnership with ARHS, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System’s Latino Health Program.
Selby said that patient success is owed to CCC’s integrated care model, which helps patients who suffer from chronic illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, depression and Hepatitis C, among others, receive integrated primary, behavioral and specialty care and education, which helps many achieve healthier lives.
”This is the best approach to care for people with chronic health conditions,” Selby said. “When you have all that care in the same building and the providers can talk with each other and coordinate the best treatment procedures for patients, it provides a very effective outcome.”
CCC relies heavily on volunteerism; in fact, it was entirely operated by volunteers until 2009 when part-time executive director and clinic directors were hired. Now, CCC operates with two medical providers, a full-time nurse, a mental health therapist and several volunteer medical providers who offer special services.
Volunteers continue to play an essential role, and the clinic is always looking for volunteers, both medical and non-medical. It also relies on acquiring funds through grants, fundraisers and donations of goods and services.
The fundraiser that CCC is most excited about is its annual Tiki Bash.
“This was a huge hit last year and brought in over $25,000, and we are excited to have the opportunity to do it again,” Selby said.
The Tiki Bash will be at the Apple Barn in Valle Crucis on Friday, May 26. Check out ccclinic.org for more details on the upcoming fundraiser.
CCC receives the majority of help from Appalachian Regional Healthcare System and LabCorp.
“We wouldn’t be able to do a lot of our services if it wasn’t for them,” said Selby.
Every contributor plays a critical role in helping CCC provide its patients with the best care.
All the donations received recently have helped CCC open up a satellite clinic in Sugar Grove, at the Hospitality House and Bradford Mobile Home Park to accommodate the needs of many uninsured and underinsured in Watauga County. Satellite clinics provide primary medical care with appointments and walk-ins accepted.
Selby said the Sugar Grove/Cove Creek area was selected because it has the highest concentration of uninsured in the Watauga County, and that many people in this rural part of the High Country do not have access to transportation into town.
The Hospitality House satellite clinic, even though it is right across the parking lot from CCC, is an important area, too, as people who are experiencing homelessness and other tragedies are at great risk for significant health care needs.
“If we make the first initial contact, then those patients are more likely to come to CCC and continue their treatment without fear, Selby said. “ The whole objective is to figure out the barriers, what is stopping people from coming to us, and address those as best we can.”
The satellite clinic at Bradford Mobile Home Park provides health care to many residents who speak limited English or have English as their second language.
Selby said that the CCC team is working toward a satellite clinic in the Meat Camp and Todd community and would like to open more satellite clinics if they can acquire the funding for them.
When asked why she does what she does, Selby says it’s because she has seen firsthand what happens when people don’t have access to the care they need.
“I grew up in a place where people didn’t have access to affordable healthcare, and I have seen the effects that it has on a community. I have seen people suffer with chronic illness and no access to health care and that really impacted me,” she said. “I want to make sure everyone has access to health care regardless of if they can afford it. I feel that health care is a basic right. Just as food and shelter are basic rights, health care is, as well. Community Care Clinic is an excellent resource for the community and we strive to create a healthier community.”
CCC would like your help, too. If you would like to make a donation that will enhance its ability to care for its patients, you can donate safely on the website through a credit card or PayPal account. There is also an option to set an automatic withdrawal, and even the smallest contribution of $10 a month can help. You can also donate by sending a check in the mail to Community Care Clinic at 141 Health Center Drive Suite B in Boone, NC 28607.
If you would like to discuss volunteer opportunities, contact the volunteer coordinator at 828-265-8591 or email at [email protected].
For more information on Community Care Clinic, visit its website at ccclinic.org