Free Clinic returns home
On Thursday May 21st, the St. Vincent De Paul Free Clinic re-opened its doors at its “new” location of 1004 1/2 East Main Street, above the SVDP Thrift Store.
However, that’s not to say the location is completely unfamiliar to the clinic’s many volunteers and care staff.
According to clinic Medical Director Dr. Christian Lee, the location had actually served as the original home of the clinic dating back to July of 2005.
“The free clinic has managed to stay in operation all these years due to donations from area individuals, businesses and service clubs. In 2010, Lincoln Community Bank donated their building at 401 West Main Street to Saint Vincent DePaul Society, which we were very excited about, due to many advantages such as easier accessibility for our patients,” Lee said.
The clinic relocated to the donated building along with several other agencies including the Merrill Community Food Pantry, and remained there until this past spring.
“A lot of repairs needed to be done to the former bank building,” Dr. Lee adds. “St. Vincent DePaul Society was unable to generate the funds needed to make the necessary repairs, so in May we chose to relocate back to our original location on East Main Street.”
Fortunately, the original clinic facility hadn’t changed much in the last five years.
Aside from some minor infrastructure upgrades for telephone and wi-fi and security upgrades for the on-site pharmacy and patient confidentiality, the facility was ready for use.
“And we have a beautiful red door!” clinic board president Kathy Graham adds with a laugh.
When asked of any impact the Affordable Care Act has had on the clinic and it’s operation, Dr. Lee agrees patient numbers have declined a bit, but also adds a variety of factors can have an effect on patient volume.
“Even though we have the Affordable Care Act, there is still a population in our communities we need to serve” Graham adds. “There are still people who need our services such as those who are under-insured or uninsured, or folks who cannot afford their deductibles!”
The clinic currently averages 6-8 patients weekly and is open to Lincoln County residents only, ages 18-64.
As indicated in its title, the clinic is available free of charge except for a nominal fee for on-site filling of prescriptions.
The clinic opens every Thursday at 5 p.m. Patient registration is open until 6 p.m.
Following the close of registration, patients are seen by volunteer ancillary staff and providers from Aspirus, Marshfield Clinic and Ministry Health care.
“We do not close until all of our patients have been seen. They are our priority,” Lee adds with a smile.
Clinic staff would like to pass along the following information for Lincoln County residents who may be considering visiting the St. Vincent De Paul Free Clinic:
*The SVDP Free Clinic is strictly a primary care facility. The clinic does not offer specialty care, chronic pain care or OBGYN care.
*Narcotic and ADHD medications are not available at the SVDP Free Clinic.
*The SVDP Free Clinic is open to Lincoln County residents only, ages 18-64.
*Financial status of patients will be reviewed and income verification may be requested.