Last updated: April 08. 2014 8:25PM - 2294 Views
By Anthony Gonzalez agonzalez@civitasmedia.com

Mary Ford Keller was named as interim executive director by Grace Clinic last week.
Mary Ford Keller was named as interim executive director by Grace Clinic last week.
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A local clinic known for servicing low-income residents living below the poverty level and lacking medical insurance has named a new interim executive director.

Mary Ford Keller, the familiar physician’s assistant and advocate for Grace Clinic, was ushered into the position by the Grace Clinic Board of Directors.

Keller has been the medical provider for the clinic since 2010. Keller will continue in her role as physician assistant, seeing patients for scheduled appointments two to three days per week.

“Mary is an important part of our restructuring…We are not out of the woods yet. Mary will keep us heading in the right direction,” said board member Larry Irwin.

“Since last fall many problems within our organization have come to light, and have been dealt with by our board, staff, and volunteers in the faithful and committed fashion that makes me love being a part of this clinic,” said Keller. “It is remarkable how far we have come in the past few months. I care about this clinic, and I want to see it succeed. I care about my patients, and I want them to have the care they deserve. I care about this community, and I want them to be proud of Grace Clinic.”

Keller replaces Sue Myers who remains on staff with Grace Clinic as its clinic manager, a position she held in conjunction with her interim executive director duties.

Last September, Grace Clinic found themselves sinking in a financial pitfall after its former executive director dropped the ball on securing funds for the facility. On Sept. 30, 2013, the clinic discovered that funds were not available to meet payroll obligations.

Since, the clinic had to streamline services. The funding shortfall forced the clinic to reduce the number of staffers from nine to seven.

The funding aftermath is still reverberating at Grace Clinic. On April 7, the clinic suspended its Tuesday service. The clinic is now only open on Monday’s and Thursday’s with a Tuesday night option on alternating weeks. The clinic once had eight phone lines in the facility. The lines have been cut to one.

“Restoring Tuesday hours will depend on funding. We’re working on it to resume next fiscal year (July),” said Keller.

Though funding remains a real concern for the clinic, its not all bleak.

On April 3, the North Carolina Association of Free Clinics (NCAFC) awarded Grace Clinic “Most Improved” for their 2013 Quality Improvement Program for their work in QI activities and percent improvement on health outcomes measures.

The NCAFC Quality Improvement Program tracks results for diabetes and hypertension patients on a quarterly basis. Statistics of all member clinics are collected, analyzed, and published by the NCAFC each fall.

Anthony Gonzalez may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @newsgonz.

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