Hope for a Healthy Community
New Hope Clinic offers free medical and dental care and pharmacy services to those in need.
Hidden in the town of Boiling Spring Lakes is an institute that survives on a mix of community civic organizations and volunteer healthcare professionals. New Hope Clinic was founded in 1998 as a one-room medical facility by people with huge hearts and big vision. It has come a long way from treating 28 patients the first year to serving nearly 1,000 patients annually in a 4,000-square-foot medical facility and at their satellite clinic in Shallotte today.
Sheila Roberts is the executive director of New Hope Clinic, which provides quality medical, dental and pharmacy services to low-income, uninsured Brunswick County adults in a caring, patient-centered setting.
“Back in 1998, a couple of Dosher Hospital doctors and other community members realized many people couldn’t afford insurance and didn’t qualify for Medicaid or Medicare,” she says. “They were using the emergency room for their primary care. Due to gaps in our health insurance system, those needs continue to exist even today.”
New Hope Clinic has 132 volunteers of various medical disciplines, including physicians and physician assistants, pharmacists, nurses, medical assistants, dentists, dental hygienists and dental assistants. There are even volunteers for administration and other tasks like yard work. These are not your ordinary volunteers.
“55% of our volunteers stay with us for more than five year, and 25% stay for ten or more,” Roberts says. “Some volunteers are here up to three times every week. Last year, volunteers logged nearly 12,000 hours.”
Roberts, a graduate of the University of Rochester with a bachelor’s degree in health and society and certificates in Management Studies, Public Sector Analysis and a nonprofit leadership certificate from Duke University, is well qualified to lead her volunteers. Starting as a volunteer at New Hope in 2008, she was appointed executive director in June 2009. In the course of a day she utilizes all her past experiences from growing up on a dairy farm in central New York to living in Italy and Hawaii with her naval husband to her education, often jumping from teaching about infection control to filling in at the reception desk and even fixing a toilet.
The volunteer healthcare professionals often also work in regular healthcare practices on a daily basis. Kurt Bryan, DMD, has been a volunteer dentist at New Hope for the past two years. When he’s not working at Scheetz & Bachara Family Dentistry in Southport, he can be found at New Hope Clinic. He says, “This is what we do, helping folks how we know best.”
Dave Anderson has been a volunteer pharmacist for New Hope for 20 years. “I fill prescriptions, counsel patients, manage inventory of supplies and medications and coordinate the delivery of medications that we do not currently stock,” he says.
Diane Juda is also a pharmacist at New Hope. She has been volunteering for seven years. Her passion for helping others is rooted in her days as a pharmacy student. “We were required to spend one evening volunteering in a free medical clinic,” she says. “I was overwhelmed by the huge need, impressed by the kindness of the staff and deeply affected by the gratitude of the care recipients. It was then that I vowed to volunteer when my life schedule allowed it.”
Roberts’ vision for New Hope is to make the community healthier.
“We will continue to work with other health and social service organizations like Brunswick Wellness Coalition and Cape Fear HealthNet,” she says. “Our goal is to improve the health and wellness of Brunswick County residents through quality healthcare for those who can’t access it another way.”
Patients who are motivated to make changes can be scheduled with one of the clinic’s care managers to have regular check-ins to set goals and action plans for wellness. Anderson adds, “If patients buy-in and work together with healthcare providers, it will lead to a better day-to-day life in most cases.”
Roberts concludes, “We need to spread the word about New Hope Clinic to friends and family who may be going without healthcare because they don’t think they can afford it. Ideally, we would have more individuals enroll with us when they’re healthy, so we can help them stay that way.”
The clinic is funded through corporate and individual philanthropic donations, grants from state and local foundations, and fundraisers.
“Our work at New Hope Clinic really gives me hope for humanity,” Roberts says. “It is so special how many community volunteers, organizations, government and businesses come together to help our neighbors access healthcare services. We are able to maximize our resources through our volunteers. Please keep giving of your time and treasures.”
Do you need medical care?
To qualify for New Hope Clinic, one must be a Brunswick County resident age 18 or older, not qualify for Medicare, Medicaid or other health insurance and have income below 200% of the federal poverty level. Visit newhopeclinicfree.org.