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Clinic celebrates 10 years of service

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By Amber Coulter

Harold McMillen and his wife have used the free services at the Community Health Clinic of Hardin and LaRue Counties for years for checkups and other basic medical services to make sure they’re in good health.

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Otherwise, the homemaker and retired exterminator from Cecilia couldn’t afford basic health care, McMillen said.

“It’s been a big help to us,” he said. “If we figured out the price of what everything would cost, I don’t think we would ever go to the doctor.”

The clinic will celebrate its 10th anniversary of serving local communities with an open house from 1 to 5 p.m. Friday at the clinic on East Memorial Drive in Elizabethtown.

Clinic staff and volunteers began seeing patients in April 2002. The volunteer-based, nonprofit free health clinic was established to provide basic health care services to uninsured, low-income residents.

The primary sources of funding are grants and donations.

In 2000, a group of concerned residents decided to try to help those who are chronically ill and don’t have access to health care, Executive Director Rebecca Farris Allen said. Two years later, the clinic treated its first patients.

Volunteers and staff members offer time and services because they’re dedicated to improving the health and well-being of community members who need help, Farris Allen said.

“Everybody that’s here is here because they want to be,” she said.

Some community members’ conditions easily could get out of control and cause them to die without the care and medicines available through the clinic, Farris Allen said.

“I think the overall desire to help people is why we’re here,” she said. “It’s very rewarding work. The volunteers that come here, when they leave, they leave feeling better about themselves and being able to do something for someone else and they leave with smiles on their faces.”

It also is good to see the support local residents and businesses have given to the clinic, Farris Allen said.

Donations always are needed because there are many people who are helped by the clinic, she said.

“It is kind of like feeding the 5,000,” she said. “It’s awesome.”

Celebrating the clinic’s 10th anniversary is exciting because operating a nonprofit service with no specific source of money is a constant struggle, Farris Allen said.

Still, the clinic continues to grow and see donors provide for needs, she said.

Farris Allen hopes the anniversary celebration draws attention to the clinic’s work.

Anne Owens of Elizabethtown will be among the clinic’s patients sharing testimonials Aug. 3 during the annual Taste of the Heartland fundraiser. The testimonials will share the care clinic patients have received and what it has meant to them.

She said her speech will come from her heart because of all the work and personal attention she has received from volunteers and staff members who have donated so much time to help her and other community members.

“They give me a sense of pride,” she said.

Owens has received treatments, tests and medications from the clinic for about four years. She likely wouldn’t know about her current medical condition or how to handle it without the clinic’s help.

The things the clinic has to offer include more than medical treatment, she said.

“Very personal care, and that helped me mentally,” she said. “I learned about my body. I learned about myself.”

Owens doesn’t like the perception people might have of patients who seek help from the clinic as people looking for free health care.

Many of the patients are working individuals who pay taxes but can’t afford health care, she said.

“I’m a substitute teacher, and I give to the community,” she said. “I contribute to society. However, there is no health insurance.”

McMillen said he and his wife appreciate the donations that allow the clinic to do its work.

“I hope they get all kinds of donations that will put them over the top,” he said. “It’s amazing what they can do.”

Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or acoulter@thenewsenterprise.com.