Free clinic to have open house Jan. 21

DOVER -- The Tuscarawas Clinic for the Working Uninsured will open its doors for its first patients on Jan. 28. The clinic is located at 614 N. Tuscarawas Ave. at the St. Joseph's Family Life Center on Tuscarawas Ave., across from St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Dover. Physician services will be offered on Wednesday evenings only from 5:30 to 9 p.m.

The week before opening for patients, the clinic will host an open house on Wednesday, Jan. 21 from 4 to 7 p.m. The public is invited to see the clinic facilities, meet the staff, and learn more about its services.

One of the program's founders, Brenda Prince, D.O., acknowledges the Clinic will have a modest start reflecting the availability of volunteer physicians, nurses, and other volunteers.

"We're starting the Clinic at a level that we believe can be supported with the resources currently available," Dr. Prince said. "At the start it's likely we'll only be able to see 12 or 13 patients during each week's Clinic hours, but with additional support from the community we hope to expand our services in the future."

Dr. Prince said the clinic will give primary care free of charge, offering acute care and longer-term care for the chronic medical conditions of its patients.

Dr. Prince is employed as an emergency physician at Union Hospital. She is one of nine area physicians who will be volunteering to staff the clinic, along with a number of nurses, healthcare professionals and other volunteers. The Tuscarawas Clinic for the Working Uninsured has been incorporated as a not-for-profit organization and has a nine-member board of directors.

The clinic is designed to serve "the working uninsured" citizens of Tuscarawas County, which Dr. Prince defines as those who are employed but have no health insurance coverage, are not eligible for Medicaid, and whose household income is at or below 100 percent of the federal poverty level. Dr. Prince said potential patients are asked to come in to fill out the application form and determine their eligibility during Clinic hours Wednesdays from 1:00 to 9:00 p.m. Application forms will also be available at the Jan. 21 open house.

"In addition, anybody interested in volunteering their time in the Clinic or in supporting it with donations of money or equipment is invited to the Open House," Dr. Prince said.

The need for funding is crucial to the operation of the Clinic according to Wendy Thomas, RN, BBA, the Clinic's executive director. She said initial financial support has come from the Rainbow Connection, the Tuscarawas County Medical Society, the Ohio Association of Free Clinics, and a number of local individuals.

"We also want to acknowledge the support and encouragement given by St. Joseph's Church and Father Bill Arnold. The church is providing the Clinic space free of charge this year until we find another location on a permanent basis," Dr. Prince said.

Dr. Prince also credited Twin City and Union Hospitals which have provided some equipment and supplies, and will also provide some laboratory and radiology services to the Clinic's patients.

When the Clinic opens on Jan. 28, volunteers will staff the office each Wednesday starting at 1 p.m. and physicians will see patients from 5:30 to 9 p.m. The clinic's phone number is (330) 364-1853. The Web site is www.tuscarawasclinic.org.