It was 1995 and it all began with just one night a week and between two to 10 people being served per month.
Fifteen years later the Lackey Clinic in Yorktown is serving thousands with free health care. The vision statement, “Lackey Free Clinic—a center of hope for today and eternity,” exemplifies the determination and passion that has fueled the Clinic for years.
According to the Clinic’s Community Outreach Director, Kelly Cash, it was “a persistent call from God to provide free health for the uninsured,” that prompted and motivated Dr. Jim Shaw and his wife Cooka to partner with Rising Sun Baptist Church along with a handful of volunteers to treat “the economically and medically disadvantaged in the community one night a week.”
The first couple of years word of the Clinic spread slowly, but that didn’t deter the Shaws. In 1997, when York County gave the green light for the Clinic to operate from the Charles Brown Community Center, “the stream of patients and volunteers grew and so did the vision,” explained Cash.
By 2000 as many as 100 patients were being seen and in August of 2003 the vision became a reality with a dedication ceremony of the Clinic’s new building at 1620 Old Williamsburg Road in Yorktown. A pharmacy was also added, allowing the Clinic to offer free medicine in addition to free services. A free dental clinic was added in 2004, along with one of Virginia’s first free chronic-care facilities serving patients with diabetes, hypertension, asthma and other ongoing conditions.
According to the Lackey Free Clinic website services provided at the Clinic include: family medicine, school physicals, gynecological services, lab and X-ray services, pharmacy services, diabetes counseling, spiritual counseling, dental services; and, by appointment chronic care for diabetes, asthma, GERD, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, ENT, gastroenterology, pediatrics, gynecology, eye clinic (for diabetic patients,) rheumatology and pulmonology.
Cash notes the Clinic continues to grow, and in 2007 there were about 5,400 patient visits and 28,394 prescriptions provided; in 2010 the patient visits were almost 10,000 and 53,918 prescriptions were provided.
Residents of James City County, Williamsburg, Yorktown, Poquoson or Newport News who live at or under 200 percent of the national poverty line without insurance can apply to become a patient. The only costs are $5 for the clinic card and $2 for any prescription.
“Currently the clinic works with four exam rooms and one dental operatory, however a 6,000-square-foot addition is planned to increase the size to seven exam rooms and four dental operatories,” Cash said. Additional space for lab work, work space for physicians and nurses, pharmacy, chapel and storage is also planned with a ground breaking this year.
Cash adds that, “Ten years from now the Clinic hopes to continue to provide healthcare to the poor, offering more mental health and dental services. We still plan on providing care in a manner that honors the name of Jesus Christ.”
Cash also explains the consortium has also expanded partnerships with area hospitals and other medical networks, providing diagnostic and specialty services to the uninsured at no cost. And by making the clinics the new medical homes for these patients, they no longer seek non-emergency care from the area’s emergency rooms.
The Clinic’s efforts have not gone unnoticed, being the recipient and honored with the following awards and recognitions.
-2010 Virginia Health Care Foundation’s Heroes in Health Care
-2010 Governor’s Volunteerism & Community Service Award
-2009 Virginia Rural Health Association’s Best Practices in Rural Health
-2009 Williamsburg Community Health Foundation Healthcare Heroes
-2009 Inside Business Healthcare Heroes Award
-2007 Citizens of the Year Award
-2005 Volunteer Center of the Virginia Peninsula Community Volunteer Award
-2004 National Conference for Community and Justice Distinguished Merit Citation
-2000 Virginia Governor’s Community Service and Volunteerism Award
-2000 York County Outstanding Volunteer Award
According to Cash, the Clinic operates on grants, individual donors and support by churches and civic groups. No federal or state dollars are used, or are services reimbursed by Medicare or Medicaid. “We welcome any monetary donations,” says Cash, noting interested supporters can call Sue Salva at the clinic at 886-0608 ext. 251 or go online to www.lackeyfreeclinic.org. United Way’s designation number for the Clinic is 6253.
Volunteers are also always needed and appreciated. Cash says the Clinic has logged more than 300 volunteers working as doctors, nurses, clerical office workers, eligibility screeners and chaplains. Anyone who is interested in volunteering can contact Kim Spencer at 886-0608 ext. 233 to schedule an interview or can apply through the website.
Cash, who began as a volunteer herself, says she “loved the work, watching Christ’s work being done through the doctors, nurses and all the volunteers.” Soon after Cash was offered the opportunity to work in the front office, later becoming manager and now in the position she currently holds in the development office.
With health care, especially free health care, being such a relevant issue and of great need in the 21st century, it is no surprise the Clinic continues to provide a service to such a large audience; and the spirit and compassion in which they present their services surely takes center stage.