September 24, 2015 was a tremendous day in the history of Mel Leaman Free Clinic. That Thursday, the clinic signed a partnership agreement with Emory & Henry College that will initiate the next phase in the life of the free clinic. The partnership agreement with the college benefits both organizations in a number of ways. For the free clinic, it means five “big” benefits.
First, this partnership means a new facility for Mel Leaman Free Clinic. The free clinic will relocate to the Emory & Henry College Marion campus during the summer of 2016. The new facility, which will be located in the current Doctor of Physical Therapy building behind the former Smyth County Community Hospital, will be renovated to include eight exam rooms, a dental hygiene room, and spacious procedures room. Clinic patients will benefit from the clinic being located on a medical campus near clinic partners such as the Lifetime Wellness Center, Virginia Health Department, and Emory & Henry College School of Health Sciences.
The second big benefit of the partnership with the college is the development of new services for free clinic patients. Physical therapy, occupation therapy, dental hygiene, and behavior health will all be offered at the new clinic location. These are services that aren’t currently available to free clinic patients, but are very much needed. The addition of dental hygiene services is a goal the Mel Leaman Free Clinic has been working to incorporate for several years.
Another big benefit of the partnership agreement is the new clinicians that will work at the free clinic. The Emory & Henry College School of Health Sciences faculty and students will serve as clinicians, which will allow the free clinic to expand operating hours and serve a higher volume of patients. Emory & Henry College has a strong tradition of academic excellence, which means the free clinic patients are guaranteed to receive the highest quality of care.
This partnership means the free clinic will be able to expand the current service area to include Grayson and Washington counties. There are estimated to be 7,650 persons in Smyth, Grayson, and Washington counties who are eligible to receive treatment at Mel Leaman Free Clinic. The expansion of the clinic’s service area means this population will have access to high quality, free healthcare.
Finally, the partnership between the college and the free clinic means new long-term opportunities for grant projects, new services, opportunities for other Emory & Henry College students, and cooperative programs.
Mel Leaman Free Clinic will continue to operate as it has since it opened in 2000. The clinic will still rely on community contributions, corporate donations, and grants to operate; however, this partnership means more funds will be used to serve patients instead of going to overhead costs such as rent and utilities.
This is tremendous news for our community!