Hands of Hope Clinic expanding

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

This summer is bringing some big changes to the Hands of Hope Clinic, and in a good way.

Thanks to its partner, Piedmont Henry Hospital, the county’s only charitable medical and dental clinic is growing the size of its staff and will be able to serve more of the community during extended hours.

The hospital, which already provides space for the clinic on its campus, “has generously agreed to fund personnel so that Hands of Hope can transition to a full-time, daytime charitable clinic,” according to a recent statement from the clinic.

Hands of Hope plans to hire a full-time nurse practitioner, part-time medical assistant, part-time social worker, quarter-time eligibility specialist, and quarter-time administrative assistant.

“This additional personnel will enable Hands of Hope Clinic to increase patient capacity substantially so that we may serve a far greater number of our friends and neighbors who are in need of our services,” according the statement.

The clinic’s new hours of operation will be weekdays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. as well as the Monday and Thursday evening clinic hours provided by volunteers for patients who need specialty care or can only come after regular work hours.

Officials from both the clinic and the hospital see this as a win-win scenario. While Hands of Hope increases patient capacity to serve more uninsured and underserved Henry Countians, the hospital sees a decrease in ER visits - and their associated costs - from uninsured patients with no alternative for care. This is expected to result in a less-congested emergency department at Piedmont Henry that is better equipped to handle true emergencies.

Clinic officials said their statistics indicate that once a person becomes a clinic patient, it reduces and/or eliminates non-emergency visits to the ER while also preventing costly in-patient visits.

“We are truly grateful for this opportunity, and Piedmont Henry Hospital should be commended for their pioneering approach to addressing the needs of the uninsured and underserved in our community,” said a clinic spokesperson.

Hands of Hope’s newest staff member, social worker Charlotte Lurch-Winston, has already been announced. She is expected to work closely with the hospital’s emergency department and case management department to identify uninsured patients who fit the clinic’s scope of service and eligibility criteria (uninsured Henry County residents with income below 300 percent of the federal poverty line) and redirect them to the clinic for follow-up and future healthcare needs.

The clinic is now in the process of hiring the other positions previously mentioned.

A grand reopening and ribbon cutting event has been scheduled for Tuesday, June 23, at 11:30 a.m. to celebrate Hands of Hope’s transition to a full-time charitable clinic.