Greensboro health center closes its doors

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- About 9,000 patients in Greensboro are now looking for a new primary healthcare home after HealthServe Community Clinic helped its last patients Friday.

CEO Brian Ellerby tells FOX8 they will have to close the clinic in Greensboro because funding from Guilford County and Cone Health system stopped in March. He said the two funding sources totaled $2.5 million of the $4 million in required to successfully run HealthServe.

The clinic offered primary care, a pharmacy and mental health assistance to low-income uninsured and underinsured patients in greater Greensboro.

The clinic was more than an urgent care or emergency stop for people who needed help, said Ellerby. It was a place where patients could develop long-term relationships with their medical staff.

"To me it's scary. It's sad. It's scary because we know that the lion's share of the patients we serve there? They have no where else to go," explained Ellerby. "There is nowhere right now in greater Greensboro that will replace the services HealthServe has provided since 1993."

Especially, he said, for low or no cost.

HealthServe was a part of the Triad Adult and Pediatric Medicine (TAPM) practice, for which Ellerby works. They also run pediatric clinics and an adult clinic in High Point. "We're seeing a lot of demand for services so [the High Point] site would not be able to absorb 8 or 9,000 plus patients being impacted."

Guilford County Health Department Director Merle Green says her staff is working to provide patients a list of clinic options in Greensboro and High Point that are accepting patients. "The system was stressed even before the closing of HealthServe, so of course the system's going to be even more stressed now," she added.

Green said there are clinics in the area for patients who can afford a co-pay, sometimes in the $30-45 range, but many of them are near-capacity or open only a few days of the week or month.

She pointed out that people who are uninsured may be employed and able to afford a co-pay, but advanced or emergency treatment would be costly.

"The health care system in Greensboro, Guilford County, North Carolina and across the nation is unstable if a person does not have the stability of an insurance card," Green said.

At Interactive Resource Center's clinic in Greensboro, people who are homeless or unemployed can find free medical care. The nurses at IRC referred patients to HealthServe's pharmacy for low and no-cost medication.

Now, they are unsure where to send patients.

"It's hard out here. It's not easy," said Ruth Henderson, who is looking for work and depended on HealthServe for her medications.

She uses inhalers for her asthma and daily blood pressure medication. Ruth has only seven pills left and now, nowhere to get a refill.

"There's a lot of people here in Greensboro that don't have a job. Or a place to stay. And they're on different types of medication, not just high blood pressure. You're talking diabetes, or asthma. What are they gonna do," Henderson asked.

Ellerby said 26 people worked at HealthServe. They managed to re-assign 16 of them to other positions at clinics in the TAPM practice. Ten people, including pharmacy workers, will now be unemployed.

Green said she is assigning Health Department staff members to assist clients in finding a new healthcare provider within their budget.

Primary Care Resources

Living Water Cares
1808 Mack St Greensboro NC 27406 Ph 336.297.4055
Every 2nd Saturday 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
www.rccglh2o.orgFREE Services

General Medical Clinic
4601 W. Market St Greensboro NC Ph 336.547.9092
3710 High Point Rd Greensboro NC Ph 336.299.6242$45 per visit/Walk-in only

Al-Aqsa Community Clinic
108 S Walnut St Greensboro NC 27409 Ph 336.350.1642
1st & 3rd Saturday of each month 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. fee scale/Call to make an appointment

Evans-Blount Community Health Center
2031 Martin Luther King Jr Dr, Suite A Greensboro NC Ph 336.641.2100
Hours Mon-Fri 9 a.m.-7 p.m. & Sat 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
www.evansblounthealth.comVisits start at $45 per visit/Call to make an appointment

Community Clinic of High Point
779 N Main St High Point NC 27262 Ph 336.841.7154
Hours Mon-Wed 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. & Thurs 8:30 a.m.-8 p.m.
$5 per visit/call for an eligibility appointment