Local News

Doctors Reach Out To Help Uninsured, Underinsured

Posted February 7, 2006

— At least 1.4 million North Carolinians are without health insurance, while many others are not insured enough. That concept is starting to change, thanks to some ordinary doctors doing extraordinary things for the uninsured and underinsured.

Dr. Phillip Stover established

Franklin County Volunteers In Medicine

about a year ago. It serves some 200 patients for free in the evening, only taking care of chronic illnesses.

Everything from the exam table to the building was either donated or paid for with grants and donations. The entire staff is volunteer.

"We've been blessed that there has been tremendous support in the county. Probably over 100 volunteers that work at the clinic in one way or another," he said.

Dr. Susan Weaver runs

Alliance Medical Ministry

in Raleigh. It is a primary care facility that serves around 9,000 patients. They pay a small fee.

Other operating expenses come from donors, corporations and grants. Eight staff members are paid. There are about 300 volunteers.

"I've always worked with the uninsured throughout my career, but usually on the volunteer basis in the evening after my day job," Weaver said. "I felt there was something missing. I wanted to do more."

Many of the patients are like Alice Walker of Franklin County, who lost her health insurance when she had to quit working for medical reasons.

"It's a godsend and it's great. I mean without this clinic, I don't know where I'd be," said Alice Walker.

The doctors consider their work a privilege.

"In a small community, all it takes to make an impact is being willing to do it," Stover said.

"It's the greatest gift I've ever been given. I tell people I don't think of it as a job," Weaver said.


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