By Colby Gable
The Community Care Clinic in Boone recently announced the departure of its medical director, Dr. John Whitlock, on September 1. Dr. Whitlock, who helped establish the Community Care Clinic in 2006, retired from his position. He has a significant history in this community, is well known and well respected. He has turned over the reins to Dr. Daniel Goble, who is a hospitalist with Watauga Medical, involved with the Family Practice Residency Program coming in 2020, and has been a volunteer with the clinic for 2 years.
In a little about his own work experience in the medical field, Globe commented, “I have volunteered at various free clinics since I was an undergraduate at NC State University. Since receiving the Brody Scholarship upon my entrance to ECU’s Brody School of Medicine, I have felt especially motivated to give back to each community I‘m a part of. During my first year at Brody, I regularly saw patients in several free clinics and became a director of the Grimesland Free Clinic during my second year. Throughout the course of my residency with Via Christi Family Medicine in Wichita, Kansas, I took care of a great number of urban indigent patients. So after moving to Boone in 2016 and starting as a full-time hospitalist with Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, it was only natural for me to volunteer at the Community Care Clinic.”
The concept of the Community Care Clinic first began in the early 2000s when Drs. Jack Whitlock and Marye Hacker recognized that a growing number of people in our area needed critical health care services but couldn’t afford the cost of insurance. To address the gap, Dr. Whitlock and Marian Peters, P.A., began treating patients from the back of a station wagon in 2005. Eventually, conversations with concerned members of the community led to a plan for a donor-funded free clinic that would be managed by volunteers and overseen by a volunteer Board of Directors.
With start-up and matching-fund grants from Blue Cross/BlueShield Foundation, the North Carolina Office of Rural Health, and local donors, the plan came to fruition. The clinic moved into its current location, formerly the Hannah Building, at 141 Health Center Drive, and the first patient was seen in May 2006. In 2007 the Clinic was granted 501(c)(3) non-profit status and became a member of the North Carolina Association of Free and Charitable Clinics. It would not be long before the clinic was able to integrate counseling, chiropractic, and acupuncture services to the primary healthcare setting. A salaried Executive Director and a clinical manager were recruited in 2009. Dr. Whitlock continues to volunteer as Medical Director, with oversight of all medical operations.
Reflecting on his time at the clinic, Dr. Whitlock stated, “It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as the Medical Director of the Community Care Clinic for so many years. I have worked with some of the most compassionate and dedicated providers, staff and volunteers one could ever know. There have been several community organizations, partners and friends along the way who have been instrumental in the clinic’s success. I would not want to miss anyone, so I will simply say thank you to all involved, for giving us the opportunity to serve our community and to change lives for so many years. While my history and work with the Community Care Clinic is important, the real story here is Dr. Goble. I believe he will keep the clinic moving in a very positive direction. His youth, fresh perspective and leadership skills will be good for the staff, volunteers and the patients. I believe we found the right person for the job. The Clinic will be in great hands. I will continue to volunteer as a provider at the Community Care Clinic as long as they will have me. It would be hard for me to do otherwise. I ask the community to continue their support of the clinic’s mission by donating or volunteering whenever possible.”
Dr. Globe, who will also be serving as the new Medical Director, commented on a few of the administrative changes, saying, “Dr. Whitlock was the driving force behind the creation of the clinic back in 2006, and has provided untold hours of volunteer medical care to this community. The success of the clinic over the past 14 years is due in no small part to his persistent efforts. He is well-loved by so many in the community, and I have greatly enjoyed and benefited from getting to know him over the last two years. I’m also very glad he has decided to continue his work at the clinic as a volunteer provider.”
As far as his own vision for the future of the clinic, he went on to say, When Dr. Whitlock and Executive Director Lisa Bottomley offered me the role of volunteer medical director, I knew it was a good fit for me. Not only am I passionate about the clinic’s work, but my week on – week off schedule at the hospital gives me the time and flexibility to be more involved than most physicians practicing Monday to Friday could be. Now that I have come to a better understanding of how the clinic functions, I am especially appreciative of the organizations and individuals that make the clinic’s work possible. My vision for the coming months and years is to build upon the strengths that already exist within the clinical team so that we can together reach the highest possible level of communication, teamwork, efficiency, and effectiveness.”
Today, the Community Care Clinic partners with ASU’s Department of Social Work and Department of Nutrition and Healthcare Management as a placement site for undergraduate student interns. It also serves as a preceptor site for Physician Assistant (PA) students from several surrounding schools. The Clinic is a collaborative community partner that aspires to broaden patient programs and services, and to look at the social determinants that affect the health of our community.
Mrs. Bottomley also shared some thoughts about the clinic’s future, saying, “We find ourselves feeling very fortunate in two ways. One, that Dr. Whitlock will remain a volunteer here at the Community Care Clinic. His passion for this work, our mission and the need in this community in regard to access to care… is immeasurable. Two, that Dr. Goble shares this passion and shares our vision of growth and innovation so that we may continue to serve our community by providing quality healthcare and improving the lives of our patients.”
The Clinic has gained the confidence of patients, individual donors, local and state funding, and over a hundred volunteers. Together, they continue to help ensure that integrated, high-quality health care is available to all the uninsured members of our community who need it. The Community Care Clinic is the only 501c3, free clinic in Watauga County, and is located at 141 Health Center Drive B, Boone, NC 28607.