Joan Counts of Clarksburg knows how important the services of Health Access Inc. are. She suffers from hypertension and a thyroid condition. Her prescription costs were excessive, and she had no medical insurance.
Counts was one of the first area residents to receive treatment at Health Access. This enabled her to continue her volunteer work and keep her medical condition under control.
"They have always treated everyone equal, no matter what their economic situation is. I feel it is one of the best things that has happened to this community. It is invaluable."
Kathy Wilson, executive director since 1995, said she has seen many patients with similar stories.
"Any time we open our doors, we make a difference for the people who receive our services. Many of these people have been out of the health care system for years. That makes us a life line for them. "
Health Access, located in Suite 1-C of Colonial Village, 104 E. Main St., is a primary care facility for those who have no other access to medical care. Patients are treated for a variety of illnesses and conditions, including hypertension, diabetes and cardiac problems.
"We also have a dermatologist here once a month, a nurse who does counseling and we offer diet education," explained Wilson, who has worked there since the doors opened in 1992.
Specialty doctors in the area accept Health Access patients on referral. "They do see them free of charge. They have been wonderful about it. We also work with United Hospital Center," she said.
Those interested in becoming a patient may come in to the office for an application. This must be submitted along with a Department of Health and Human Services letter of non-eligibility for a medical card. Once the application is approved, they are sent a card with an appointment time to begin services.
The volunteer Board of Directors came up with the slogan "Caring Hearts and Healing Hands" when the clinic opened. This refers to the volunteers and health care professionals who work jointly to make the project work.
Although Health Access is a United Way agency as well as a Primary Care agency, it is in jeopardy of closing its doors at this time.
"We desperately need funding and public support. No gift is too small," said Wilson. "Health Access is a vital part of the community because we are here for those who have no other alternative for health care. We don't want these people to have to make choices like whether to seek medical attention or buy groceries."
"We would like to encourage people to give because it is neighbor helping neighbor. Someday it might be them who needs our help," concluded Wilson.
Health Access currently serves approximately 2,700 patients in Harrison and Doddridge County with hours from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 6-8 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month. For more information call 622-2708.
Staff writer Darlene Taylor can be reached at 626-1439.