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The Community Care Clinic

Aug. 1, 2003
A few years ago, retired physician Dr. Arnesto Delatory was sitting in a hospital conference meeting. He observed that a number of his retired colleagues continued to attend the meetings

By Keith Phillips

A few years ago, retired physician Dr. Arnesto Delatory was sitting in a hospital conference meeting. He observed that a number of his retired colleagues continued to attend the meetings, even though they were no longer treating patients. Dr. Delatory began dreaming of a way to put these physicians to work in a free clinic. He threw his idea out to the group, and 21 retired MDs signed on to help.

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A six-month search for a facility led them to a building owned by Novant Health. With his dream and 21 retired physicians on board, Dr. Delatory, Dr. Bill Satterwhite, and Jim Robinson, executive director of the Forsyth/Stokes/Davie County Medical Society, leased the modern, 13,000-square-foot facility for $1 a year!

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In the next two years, over 100 physicians and countless nurses, lab technicians, and other volunteers contributed in various capacities to provide free care to the needy residents of the area. Then the emergency room physicians at Forsyth Mem-orial Hospital contacted Dr. Satterwhite to express a need for a place to refer indigent patients for dental problems. With three rooms available in the facility, Dr. Satterwhite and Robinson contacted area dentists, Dr. Robert Clinard and Dr. Gerald Taylor. Robinson secured grants and donations for over $100,000 to provide state-of-the-art equipment for two operatories, supplies, and a salary for a dental assistant to help run and organize the clinic.

With the help of Dr. Clinard and Dr. Taylor, the Forsyth County Dental Society enlisted the assistance of over 25 area dentists, 20 hygienists, and numerous dental assistants.

Dr. Satterwhite says now that the biggest problem he has is the limited number of days the clinic can be open. "If we could stay open full time, at least we might feel like we were making a dent in the problem."

As it stands now, the clinic schedules about six patients an evening for the dentist and the same number for the hygienist. In addition, three or four patients are screened and given a dental exam each evening.

The criteria for receiving treatment in the Community Care Clinic is to have a family income of less than 200 percent of the poverty level and to not be eligible for Medicaid or other insurance programs.

To date, over 300 individuals have volunteered their time and resources to allow this wonderful clinic to provide an amazing variety of medical and dental care in a wonderful, modern facility. In addition to dentistry and general medicine, the clinic also offers a dermatology clinic once a month, an eye clinic and a radiology clinic four times a month, and classes on diabetes four times a month.

To expand the dental services and to more fully utilize the facility and equipment, Dr. Satterwhite is looking for grant money to cover the salary of a full-time dentist so that the needs of a great many more patients can be met more efficiently and effectively.

Dr. Keith Phillips maintains a private practice in Winston-Salem, N.C. He is president and founder of The Giving Hand Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to the start-up and development of free medical and dental clinics. Dr. Phillips also serves as a teaching associate at the L.D. Pankey Institute and is on the faculty of the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry.

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