About

Cook And Fleming

The necessity for the existence of a “Free Clinic” was an idea first brought to the attention of Rick Gilstrap, President, Halifax Regional Medical Center (HRMC), in 1994 by Dr. G. Pandarinath. A gastroenterologist with a group of physicians whose practice is in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, Pandarinath was well aware of the financial status of some residents in the area.

There are a substantial number of residents in the Roanoke Valley who could be termed the “working poor.” The “working poor” include those who do not have health insurance coverage, even though they are gainfully employed. They are the people who earn too much money to qualify for medicaid and are also generally too young to qualify for Medicare.

Many of these “working poor” people have chronic diseases which often require repeated trips to a physician. Frequently, when they are given prescriptions for medication to treat their problem, they cannot afford to purchase the medication. When they go without medication, the chronic condition may become acute enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room and/or hospitalization.

In 1995, Gilstrap introduced the idea to Ed Cook, Vice President of Finance, HRMC, Dr. Hector Manlapas, Gordon Rogers and Rose Fleming; members of the HRMC Foundation, all of whom were in agreement with the concept of a Free Clinic.

An advisory board was constructed and several existing Free Clinics in the area were investigated to ascertain the feasibility of instituting a Free Clinic in the Roanoke Valley.

A survey of health professionals established evidence of a positive interest in the proposed clinic. Commitment from the medical community to the clinic was evidenced by the volunteering of services by twenty four physicians in the area.

In January of 1998, John Lockhart, a former Northern Hospital of Surry County administrator, visited Roanoke Rapids to speak to the steering committee. Lockhart had been instrumental in instituting a free clinic in Mt. Airy in 1993.

By February of 1998 a steering committee was formed, consisting of twenty-four members.

The committee released a news article to the Roanoke Daily Herald in April of 1998, which indicated Halifax Regional Medical Center’s desire to offer a “free clinic” to people in the Roanoke Valley. The clinic would be open one night a week, for three to four hours and offer primary care, examinations, and services for chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. In the future, dental care may be added.

At that time, a search for a building to house the clinic was begun. Grants were written to support the clinic and other funding sources were investigated. Officers for the clinic, named the Roanoke Valley Medical Ministries Clinic (RVMMC) were installed. An Executive Committee, a Finance Committee and an Operations Committee were instituted.

In August of 1998, a site was found for the free clinic. However, delays resulted stemming from the need for changes in zoning regulations and costs for renovating the chosen site. A Clinic Coordinator was hired. A temporary location for the clinic was found in February of 1999, until the permanent site could be realized. The necessity of securing free health services for qualifying residents demanded resolution and was accomplished.

RVMMC Board of Directors

*Chairman – Carl Ferebee
Vice Chairman – Rick Gilstrap
Secretary – Gwynell Butts
Treasurer – Sherry Jensen
Hugh Bazemore
Betty Cook
Michael Felt
Rose A. Fleming
Rev. Margie Holm
Ruby Palmer
James Pierce

Officers & Executive Committee

*Chairman – Carl Ferebee
Vice Chairman – Rick Gilstrap
Secretary – Gwynell Butts
Treasurer – Sherry Jensen
Member at Large – Ruby Palmer

Finance Committee/Funding

Chairman – Sherry Jensen
Hugh Bazemore
Connie Hill

Community Liason

Rev. Margie Holm
James Pierce

*Medical Directors

Dr. Kenneth Robert

*Executive Director

Rose A. Fleming

*Ex-Officio

(President of HRMC) Will Mahone

Clinic Coordinator

Betty Cook

* NOTE: Invited to all meetings.