Clinic celebrates 25th anniversary

October 11, 2018

The Northern Neck –Middlesex Free Health Clinic (NNMFHC) celebrated its 25th anniversary on Saturday, October 6.

The Clinic was transformed for the occasion, with a tent placed and beautifully decorated in front of the building for the hors d’oeuvres, refreshments, and remarks. Donors, volunteers and supporters moved in and out of the facility for guided tours of the Medical Clinic, Dental Clinic, and Pharmacy provided during the event.

Board vice-chair G. Scott Graham welcomed the donors, volunteers, other guests and event sponsors. He outlined how far the Clinic has advanced since it opened its doors 25 years ago, on October 7, 1993, in the Lancaster County Health Department. Within three years the Clinic had its own building, donated by Phyllis F. Smith, and in 2003 – ten years after its founding – moved into its current Mary A. Graham facility.

Jean Nelson

Mr. Graham presented a plaque from the Board to Jean Nelson, the founding Executive Director and now CEO of the Clinic. She touched on what the Clinic has meant to thousands of individuals over the years, and the need to keep providing care that is otherwise not accessible or affordable to so many living in the area.

Dr. Steve Glessner, one of the founding physicians, spoke on the origins of the Clinic and noted the needs that created it 25 years ago continue today. Dr. Glessner, recently retired from Bay Internists, now volunteers at the NNMFHC Outreach Clinic in Montross.

Linda Wilkinson

The featured speaker was Linda Wilkinson, CEO of the Virginia Association of Free and Charitable Clinics – the statewide organization for 63 member clinics that also is celebrating its 25th year. She emphasized that clinics will continue being a vital part of Virginia’s health-care system. Medicaid expansion is expected to help some of the state’s low-income and uninsured residents, but hundreds of thousands of Virginians won’t qualify, won’t be able to afford insurance, and still will need a health-care home, she said. She complimented the community on creating such a comprehensive facility.

Joan Ball, a breast cancer survivor, spoke movingly on how the Clinic stepped in to guide her through the diagnosis, disease, and treatment, connecting her with specialists and obtaining her medications while offering moral support. Patrick Walker, a former patient, described how vital the Clinic was to his health and well-being during a critical time in his life, and how important it is to support an organization that helps elevate the health of the community, one person at a time. Other Clinic patients were on hand for the tours, speaking on the importance of the Clinic in their lives.

From left are Scott and Brenda Graham, and Jane and Tom Birdsong.

In closing remarks, Board member Dr. Greg Lockhart announced a $50,000 fund-raising challenge offered by a long-time Clinic supporter. He urged the community to take advantage of the challenge to help move the Clinic into its next 25 years. Two donors answered the challenge that night, and more are needed.

From left are Bill Lee, Bob Sutherland, and Page Henley.

The Clinic thanks these event sponsors:

  • Gold level – Davenport & Company, Union Bank, and Wells Fargo Advisors of Kilmarnock / Eugene Duffer Neal Wealth Management.
  • Silver level – Anonymous (two donors), Bon Secours, Chesapeake Bank / Chesapeake Wealth Management, Coldwell Banker – Chesapeake Bay Properties, Northern Neck Insurance Company, and Omega Protein.
  • Bronze level –Bay Auto, Earth Resources, Noblett Appliance, Virginia Commonwealth Bank, and John and Beverley Upshur.

Creative Designs helped with signage for the event. Bill Cronheim and Entertainment Systems provided the sound and lighting. Flower arrangements were done by Betty Whaley of Two Sisters Floral, and the wide array of food was cooked and catered by Jill and Larry Worth. In-kind support was provided by Mary Kay Rotert and Good Luck Cellars.

Others who helped with funds were RxPartnership, Bragg & Company, Hurd’s Hardware, River Birch Landscaping/Nursery, Tom and Jane Birdsong, Bill Burton, Sallie Rankin, and Tom and Joyce Warfield.