HANNIBAL | The Hannibal Free Clinic continues to make a difference in local patients' lives every day — and the volunteers, donors and other supporters who make those efforts possible were commended during the clinic's annual meeting on Monday.
HFC is dedicated to providing medical care, prescription assistance and support services to area patients who don't have health insurance and live at 150% of the poverty level. Since 2007, more than 2,000 patients have received support such as 15,000 free primary care visits and 21,213 free prescriptions through the combined efforts of volunteer physicians, nurses and support staff. HFC board members and officials held a lunch meeting to thank volunteers for their contributions which have changed lives for thousands of area residents over the years.
“It's just very rewarding to be part of an organization that is doing so much good in our community,” Rollins said. “The number of people that they're able to help that wouldn't have access to health care any other way, it's just an amazing thing to see and to be a part of.”
The clinic relies solely on financial donations and in-kind gifts from volunteer medical providers and partnering individuals and organizations. Rollins thanked retiring board members Laura Steinman, Kurt Ebers, Sarah Boleach and Joel Booth for their service, and Clinic Manager Sharon Webster announced the recipients of this year's awards.
The Heart Beat awards were presented to Janet Cox, Karen Sutor, Linda Clark and Karen Baker White. Four Points Land Surveying and Engineering received the Supporting our Services (SOS) award, and Hannibal Dental Group's Dr. Tad Edwardson, Trina McElvain, Marci Hallows, Megan Dodd and Lindsey Pyse were honored with the Caring Heart award.
New programs and partnerships are helping to meet patients' needs at the clinic, Webster said — Clark is a Lions Club member, and she established a new service between HFC and HQ Eyes to provide patients with eye exams and eyeglasses. Dr. Tad Edwardson and his colleagues with the Hannibal Dental Group worked with the clinic to restart dental services at the clinic. Preferred Family Healthcare has also partnered with the clinic to provide patients with mental health services.
Tim Wood and Debra Kay White shared their stories about how the free clinic gave them the life-saving help they needed. White said she found herself without health insurance after her husband lost his job due to health issues. HFC volunteers and staff helped her get the medicine and care she needed. Wood said when he moved from Illinois to Missouri, his health coverage was no longer active. In addition to providing care for his daughters, HFC staff helped Wood make lifestyle changes and get the medicine he needed to manage his Type 2 diabetes. He has lost 80 pounds through the support he's received, and he stressed the importance of supporting the clinic that saved his life. “Everything that the doctors come out for is 100% volunteer,” Wood said. “Everything that they get comes from donations, so if they don't get donations, they're not able to help so many people — they'd almost have to pick and choose on who they're able to help out, what needs are more important. Everybody's needs are important. You never know from person to person, what their hardship is, what happened that led them on the path that led them here.”
Rollins said HFC representatives will be at the Palmyra Fair this year, and she and Webster reminded everyone of the clinic's largest fundraiser, Rib Fest, which is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Mark Twain Cave Complex. And Webster said the HFC “Power of $2.50” campaign, started by her husband, Charles, will receive more focus in the coming year — the fundraiser allows donors to make a difference by pledging a gift of $2.50 each week. Dr. Eric Meidl told the group that life is made up of many decisions, and he said God moved him to make the decision to give his talents to help save lives at the HFC. He thanked others who made similar choices to support the same cause — helping patients who otherwise wouldn't have the choice to get the medicine or treatment they need.
“Their choices are limited, which makes a lot of the choices people make here just spectacular,” Meidl said. “You've provided through your actions and your choices a place for people to come, a place for them to get healthcare, a place for them to get pharmaceutical resources, caring hands, advice with decisions in life — how to eat, how to behave — and it allows them to fulfill their life in a lot better ways.”
More information about volunteer opportunities, giving to the HFC through the Power of $2.50 Campaign or other topics is available by visiting the HFC Facebook page, their website at https://hannibalfreeclinic.org or calling 573-248-8307.