At Thursday’s annual meeting, Dr. Adam Samaritoni, medical director at the Hannibal Free Clinic, likened the work done on behalf of this community’s poor at the clinic to the message in Proverbs 14:31:
“Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” NIV
“God cares so much for the poor,” Dr. Samaritoni said, “when we join with Him in his work, that honors Him.”
With that premise in mind, Jeff Asmussen, 2014 chairperson, Sharon Webster and Andrea Scott presented awards to deserving clinic volunteers.
“Heart Beat” Awards were given to:
Rita Elliott, an RN who volunteers both during clinics and at other times. She assists with special projects as well as answers phones. “Rita is always willing to step in and help where she can,” Webster said.
Warren Barrett is a medical technologist who helps the free clinic with lab draws. “Warren is using his years of lab experience to help the Free Clinic patients,” Webster said.
Sandy Cockrell is an RN who helps the clinic in several ways. “She assists during clinic by checking patient vital signs and getting patients settled in rooms. Last year she helped us transition to our electronic scheduling and updating our data base. She continues to help with computer work and recruits her daughter, Samantha, to help also,” Webster said.
Andrea Scott presented the SOS Award, (Support of Service). This award was given to Northeast Missouri Imaging Associates, led by Dr. Joel Hassien.  This organization has provided radiological interpretative services to the patients of the Free Clinic. “Dr. Hassien and his associates have provided these services at no cost to the patients,” Scott said. “This has been very beneficial to the patients and saved our patients many dollars.” Brandon Selle, practice administrator, accepted the award on Dr. Hassien’s behalf.
Sharon Webster presented the “Caring Heart” Award to Dr. Priscilla Long. “Dr. Long has volunteered at the Free Clinic since it opened in 2007,” Webster said. “She is very faithful, coming every month. She switches her schedule to be sure she doesn’t miss. Dr. Long helps provide quality care to the patients at the Free Clinic and ensures their needs are met.”
Webster said that following the tornado that devastated Joplin, Dr. Long spent a week helping patients in their recovery.
Joe Yarbrough, 2013 chairman, offered a recap of last year.
“2013 started with uncertainty in health care field,” he said, “and we finished the year with many needs still unmet. There is the likelihood that the need for our services will continue in the future.”
In 2013, the clinic was able to add nurse practitioners as providers for the first time. And the clinic hired a part time assistant to help with clinic operations. The clinic started using electronic scheduling and record keeping.
The clinic provided services for 132 new patients in 2013, and provided $1.6 million in medical assistance - prescriptions - and all but $2,000 was donated.
As the year ended, “the patient waiting list is longer than we wish,” Yarbrough said. “We have need for added providers. Our waiting list is the same as a year ago, and those needs are not being met.
The clinic space is donated by Hannibal Regional Hospital, which also pays the director’s salary. All services provided by the clinic are through volunteers.
Andrea Scott provided some statistical information compiled by the clinic.
Last year, 40 percent of the patients seen at the Free Clinic had some kind of employment in the community.
132 new patients were treated in 2013, and there were 1,446 return visits.
A total of 369 diseased teeth were extracted in 2013.
The most common diseases treated in 2013: Hypertension, diabetes, obesity, smoking, and anxiety and depression.
“Gift in kind” services were valued at $2.3 million.
At the end of 2013, there were 162 patients waiting for services.
Jess Asmussen, 2014 chairperson, said that the clinic receives no state or federal funding. “We’re very reliant upon donations and volunteers,” he said.

Dr.  Stephen Halpin paid tribute to Dr. Erv Harder, long-time clinic volunteer, who died on  Valentine’s Day, 2014.
“The Hannibal Courier-Post called him a pillar of our community,” Dr. Halpin said. “He pulled a lot of teeth” at the free clinic. “He set up the best dental clinic in the city, but he went through life never beating his own chest. The Free Clinic was important to Erv. He gave the clinic direction.”
Statistics show that 1,400 diseased teeth were extracted at the clinic since Harder started volunteering there in 2007.