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Residents rally for low-cost clinic

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POSTED: February 25, 2009 9:03 a.m.
Photo by Alena Parker/

A volunteer fundraising group for the Diversity Clinic stands near a progress sign in front of the clinic Tuesday.

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Faced with clogs in federal and state funding pipes, area residents are taking it upon themselves to keep money pumping to the Diversity Health Center.
Since Feb. 1, a volunteer fundraising group has been “beating the doors,” to raise money for the low-cost, primary care clinic, according to chairwoman Dorothy Rose.  
Diversity sees an average of 15-20 patients a day and has gone through its $500,000 start-up grant from the state.
“We’re just kind of holding on by our fingernails,” said clinic nurse prac-
titioner Martha Kitchings.
Long County’s Diversity Clinic received federal funding, but Hinesville’s did not.
“We applied, but they don’t consider us a rural area so that made us ineligible,” Kitchings said.
And without funding from the county and Liberty Regional Medical Center, Kitchings added, the clinic definitely would not be able to make it.
“We see so many people here in the community who are uninsured, people that don’t have any way of taking care of their health,” Kitchings said.
Charlotte McGregory suffered a stroke and depends on the clinic to help control her blood pressure and upper respiratory problems.
“It’s so convenient for me,” McGregory said. “I’m just one in a million victims that can’t afford $600 a month for medication.”
Payments are income-based with the lowest possible payment at $19.
Besides affordable care, the clinic provides an alternative for minor medical conditions without overburdening the emergency room, according to Dr. Olugbenga Awe.
“Really, we want to keep people out of the hospital,” he said.
“If we can keep their blood pressure down…and keep them healthy, they don’t have to go to the hospital,” Kitchings said. “And that’s what we work very hard to do.”
Perhaps working just as hard, the fundraising team has been sending letters to businesses, churches and organizations asking for donations.
“Continued support from the community, as a whole, will be the difference to the future of this clinic,” said volunteer Karen Jones-Jemison. “If it does not affect you, certainly, there are family members and friends who need these services.”
They are currently sponsoring a raffle and the main fundraiser will be a fish fry May 16 at Stafford Park.
They want to raise as much as they can through May 31.
Mary Prince, who works at the clinic’s front desk, said the staff is passionate about providing care.
“The biggest thing is trying to help people and that’s why we’re here,” Prince said. “We try our hardest to do everything in our power to help them. That’s why we have as many patients as we do.”
 

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