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By MARTY FINLEY
ELIZABETHTOWN — The Community Health Clinic of Hardin and LaRue Counties, which provides health care for people who could not afford it otherwise, has set some tangible financial goals for its annual fundraiser this year.
The clinic hosts the fourth annual Taste of the Heartland fundraiser at 7 p.m. Friday at the Historic State Theater in Elizabethtown, with all proceeds benefiting the nonprofit facility.
The fundraiser consists of a buffet dinner catered by 20 local restaurants yielding a variety of foods to sample.
The event caps off with an art auction, featuring several pieces donated by the local Art Guild and other local artists, including original works.
Maurita Roper, executive director of the clinic, said the goal is to raise $30,000.
“We’re really ambitious,” Roper said.
Taste of the Heartland began in 2005 and is the only fundraiser sponsored by the clinic. Roper said the clinic did not know what to expect and simply wants to do as well or better with each passing year.
“We’ve done very well,” she said.
The money raised pays expenses at the clinic such as pharmacy stock. Roper said the clinic orders generic medications at wholesale prices, but pharmaceuticals still make up one-third of its annual expenses.
In addition to the fundraiser, the clinic receives grants from organizations such as the United Way of Central Kentucky and financial support from local civic organizations and churches.
The clinic opened in 2002 with full-service care available to patients at no charge, including lab services and a licensed in-house pharmacy.
But there are some guidelines, Roper said. Patients must schedule appointments and are screened to ensure they meet the clinic’s criteria.
Patients must reside in either Hardin or LaRue counties, with low incomes and no health insurance. The poverty level for a one-person household is $10,400 and below, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, but the clinic accepts patients with incomes 85 percent above poverty level, capped at $19,240.
In 2007, 75 percent of the clinic’s patients were equal to or below the poverty level and roughly 75 percent were diagnosed with one or more serious chronic diseases.
Roper said the illnesses have forced some patients to quit jobs, leaving them without health insurance and medication for their illnesses.
“That’s really the most critical mission,” Roper said, adding that the clinic wants to help patients stabilize their illnesses and begin working again.
The clinic served about 665 patients in 2007, but Roper said it’s not the same group continually.
She said she has almost 2,400 closed charts stored at the clinic, with many of those patients leaving the clinic’s care because of a newfound ability to afford insurance.
“It’s not the same little few,” Roper said. “It’s a constant turnover.”
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762.
IF YOU GO
Taste of the Heartland begins at 7 p.m. Friday at the Historic State Theater in Elizabethtown. Tickets are $50 per person and can be purchased at Republic Bank on Ring Road or the main branch of the Kentucky Neighborhood Bank on North Dixie Avenue. ABOUT THE CLINIC
The nonprofit clinic at 114 E. Memorial Drive in Elizabethtown is open from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. If you need service, would like to volunteer or need more information, contact the clinic at 763-9589.