Taylors Free Medical Clinic gets Olympic-size attention

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Monday, May 21, 2012

When Scott Hamilton begins to deliver the keynote address Tuesday night at the Taylors Free Medical Clinic (TFMC) fundraiser it’s hoped his message touches hearts, minds and pocketbooks.

The fundraiser, TFMC’s spring gala, is at the TD Convention Center beginning at 6 p.m. A heavyweight speaker like Hamilton, an Olympic gold medalist and TV commentator, is counted on to inspire fundraising and volunteers while also saluting all those who have contributed to the success of the faith-based clinic.

“Last year we had Lt. Col. Oliver North (U.S. Marine Corps) and I was wondering how he would connect our clinic in his talk,” said Russell Ashmore, co-founder with Dr. James Hayes, of the medical clinic. “He did a marvelous job talking about volunteerism and that’s what we are all about.”

The Taylors Free Medical Clinic ministers to the mind, body and spirit of the medically uninsured and indigent people of the Taylors area. Executive Director Karen Salerno manages an all-volunteer organization of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, administrative personnel and maintenance workers.

Ashmore said the clinic budgets $500,000 but doesn’t receive federal aid. Grants help with some finances but income is dependent on industrial, business and individual donors.

A Mo-Med mission trip in Brazil in 2002 had Ashmore and Hayes wondering, “If we can do this in South America and half way around the world, why can’t we do something to help people in our own backyard?” Three years later they did, opening the TFMC on July 25, 2005.

“We saw ten patients the night we opened our doors to where we’re seeing 3,100 a year. That’s a lot of folks,” Ashmore said.

By the numbers the clinic fills 25,000 prescriptions with generic drugs (no narcotics are distributed) costing wholesale $1.5 million. The clinic’s cost is $100,000. “We will send out our ‘drug runners’ to doctor’s offices and pick up free samples,” Ashmore said.

The clinic doesn’t just administer drugs. It tends to the patients spiritually and physically. “We have a Christian doctor and times he will recommend counseling,” Ashmore said.

A full-time pharmacist and nurse practicioner are on staff daily. Blood pressure checks are routinely given.

The clinic uses the federal poverty level as its baseline to provide assistance. People who are assisted with aid cannot have health insurance. “A lot of folks use to give lost their jobs and now come for assistance,” Ashmore said.

When Hamilton talks Tuesday about overcoming obstacles such as two serious childhood diseases and more recently a battle with cancer, he will speak of rising up against the odds to become his sport’s ultimate champion.

The Taylors Free Medical Clinic is hoping Hamilton will impact those in attendance to take up the battle that Ashmore and Hayes initiated 10 years ago after a trip to Brazil.

For more information, contact Karen Salerno at 244-1134 or [email protected].



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