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Cindy Jackson, the parish nurse of First United Methodist Church, who has taken on the role to spearhead a charitable health clinic, met with a group of 10 people interested in the effort Tuesday to discuss needs for opening the clinic.

The Clark County Strategic Plan outlined the need for a charitable health clinic in Goal No. 2, Action Step C: “Develop a comprehensive plan to open a medical clinic in Arkadelphia for low income residents and those without insurance. Using the results of this comprehensive plan, open a medical clinic on or before Dec. 31, 2008.” The CCSP Healthcare Subcommittee addressed this action step in fall 2008. While it may be a few months behind target on its opening, volunteers are paving the way for the step to become a reality.

“We’re calling it Charitable Health Service,” Jackson said, noting that it would be service to those without medical insurance rather than a clinic.

Jackson said a location has been secured, but would not disclose the location until the contract has been finalized. She did, however, reveal that renting the office space is set around $250 — “a very, very reasonable price for office space.”

What is needed now for the office to be complete is some carpentry work, including adding a wall to the office, and painting. Jackson said the task would only take about two to three days, and is seeking volunteers for the labor.

Jackson said the Clark County Charitable Health Service is recognized by the State of Arkansas as a non-profit organization (it still lacks being recognized by the IRS), and that the paperwork was turned in Wednesday to apply for its 501(c)3 status.

She said since the last meeting was held, an application has been put together for those interested in volunteering at the clinic. Volunteers “will have to qualify,” with a background check and other matters — since the operation deals with health care. Applications will be given out to various churches and civic organizations. She added that the organization is not soliciting private donations because it hasn’t yet received its 501(c)3 status.

Jackson mentioned that the first year’s projected budget is near completion, and a start-up cost of $10,000 is “doable and reasonable … by 2011 we could be looking at a budget of $18,000 to 19,000.”

She said there is currently one computer with wireless capability for helping clients find medications online, and she foresees eventually having two computers for that reason.
Kluck, chair of the Clark County Strategic Plan, asked if the organization has secured malpractice insurance coverage. Jackson said that, according to the Hot Springs agent she talked to, that insurance will only cost $100 per year.

She noted that several local health professionals have volunteered their services — including 11 physicians, four dentists, about 12 nurses, one chiropractor and three pharmacists.

She said the operation is “moving along and becoming a reality” now.

Jackson then outlined the framework of how the service will operate. Applicants may not have any form of medical insurance — including Medicare, Medicaid or ArKids 1st, and applicants will fill out a “hefty” application to make sure they are eligible. After meeting eligibility requirements, applicants who go to the office will be referred to physicians, and their medical records will be kept on e-file at the Charitable Health Care Service office. All records sent to doctors’ offices will be sent electronically, and clients will be treated in the physicians’ offices.

While no mental health services will be offered at first, Jackson said it is “something we can build into … We will start with medical care to get our feet on the ground.”

When asked when the office will be in operation, Jackson said the office will start out open “a couple days of the week until we work up to being open every day.” The office will be open during regular business hours.