Grace Clinic celebrates 10-year anniversary

JoAnn Collins of Elkin volunteers as the receptionist at Grace Clinic of the Yadkin Valley.

Grace Clinic volunteers include, from left, Mae Werner of Dobson, who interviews clients for eligibility; Janie Westra of State Road, a receptionist who makes appointments for eligibility; and Larry Kallam of Elkin, an interpreter.

Physician’s Assistant Mary Keller, from left, who works at Grace Clinic, talks with patient Melissa Hilton of Elkin, a full-time mother and student.

Grace Clinic of the Yadkin Valley will celebrate its 10th anniversary Monday with an open house.

Executive Director Hugh Quinn said the low-income medical clinic was granted nonprofit status by the IRS on June 29, 2005. The public is invited to help celebrate the anniversary from 4 to 6 p.m. at the clinic, located at 170 Claremont Drive, Elkin.

“For those who have never been here,” Quinn said, “we’d love to have them stop by and see what the clinic is doing.” Cake and punch will be served.

Grace Clinic of the Yadkin Valley — which just recently completed the process of legally changing its name from Tri-County Health Resource Center — is open for patients on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The clinic also reopens three Tuesdays a month from 6 to 8 p.m for patients who cannot come in during the day.

Quinn, who has been the executive director since March 2, said the clinic has some great success stories. One patient, for example, a male in his 60s, was diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol when he went to the Grace Clinic of the Yadkin Valley for help.

“After being prescribed the proper medication and also taking an active role in his own health through a proper diet, walking and exercising more,” Quinn said, “all of his numbers are now within the normal range. Without the medical care, he was on his way to very serious health issues.”

About 500 patients are being seen by the clinic, he said, ranging in age from 26 to 62.

Quinn said 180 of them need insulin for diabetes and drugs for chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol. “We’re able to provide them for these individuals either directly or through the pharmaceutical companies,” he said.

The clinic was started by the late Lynn Sloan Barnes, a member of the Elkin First United Methodist Church and a Spanish teacher at Elkin High School. Barnes, who died from cancer in 2011 at the age of 56, had been on several mission trips to other countries helping others, Quinn said, when she came back home and read about a homeless woman who died after not being able to get treatment for diabetes.

“That inspired her to start a free clinic here in Elkin,” he said.

As part of an annual business meeting, dinner and awards program scheduled for Thursday evening, the first Lynn Sloan Barnes Exceptional Service Award was to be presented to Dr. Stephen Erlandson, an Elkin family practitioner who also was instrumental in starting the clinic along with the late Rev. Ralph Shipp of Elkin.

One of the patients being treated by the clinic was scheduled to speak about what it has meant to him at Thursday night’s program.

Quinn said the clinic started out at Elkin United Methodist Church as a medication distribution center. When it moved in 2006 to Grassy Creek United Methodist Church, Grace Clinic of the Yadkin Valley was expanded into a clinic, where patients were seen on a regular basis.

Two years later, Grace Clinic of the Yadkin Valley moved to its present site on Claremont Drive. There is no fee for patients eligible for services.

To be eligible for treatment at the clinic, Quinn said people must be between the ages of 18 and 64, have no health insurance and be at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The Grace Clinic for the Yadkin Valley is one of 71 free clinics across North Carolina.

Quinn said one of the unique aspects of the Grace Clinic of the Yadkin Valley is that it is an integrated care model. In addition to offering services by a physical health medical provider, it also offers services by a behavioral health medical provider. “Both will meet jointly with new patients to assess their physical condition as well as their mental health condition,” he said.

This is helpful to patients, Quinn said, in that they have the opportunity to talk as needed with a therapist about family and marriage issues as well as other mental health issues including depression and anxiety. The therapist also holds monthly support group meetings for patients.

The Grace Clinic of Yadkin Valley has six part-time paid staff, including Quinn, a business assistant, physician’s assistant, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse and phlebotomist. Quinn said volunteers also work in the office daily filling various administrative roles. The clinic also has an interpreter who volunteers his services.

Quinn said the Grace Clinic of the Yadkin Valley is fortunate to be so close to Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital, which takes blood samples from patients seen at the clinic and provides a report to clinic medical staff at no charge. “The hospital is a great asset to us,” he said.

One of the benefits of the free clinic is that it cuts down on the number of emergency room visits. “It’s much more costly in an ER than it is in a free clinic as far as operational purposes,” Quinn said.

For more information on the Grace Clinic of the Yadkin Valley, log onto its website at or call the clinic at 336-835-1467.

Kathy Chaffin can be reached at 336-258-4058.

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