For many years, Lincoln Countians with limited financial resources have relied on Helping Hands Clinic for necessary medical care. The original Helping Hands Clinic started in 2002 in the current location of the Housing Authority with one small space with a curtain for privacy. The clinic was given a building on Dave Warlick Drive in 2003 which was remodeled and all volunteers served through this location. The clinic was started by many different people and manned by a group of willing volunteers (doctors/nurses/others) in the community.
The clinic lacked funding to expand its services--and relying totally on volunteer help, it had difficulty trying to meet the growing needs. In March 2010, Gaston Family Health Services took over the operation.
In recent years, Helping Hands has operated in the annex building adjacent to the former Lincoln County Hospital--now the Lincoln County Health Department.
Come Monday, Helping Hands will be no more. The clinic will now be known by the name of the parent organization--Gaston Family Health Services. It will now be located in a new building just across the parking lot from its former location.
One of the reasons for the change was a need for larger facilities to accomodate the clinic's patients. Another is a misunderstanding about what the clinic does. It is NOT a free clinic intended only to serve the poor.
It is true that Gaston Family Health Services, which operates in seven North Carolina counties including Lincoln, provides medical care to patients 'without regard to their ability to pay.' The multiple GFHS locations serve the needs of many of the area's 'working poor,' those who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford health insurance or costly visits to private practices. GFHS does offer a reduced cost option to those who need it and complete a request validating their need. GFHS also provides pharmacy services for GFHS patients as needed. It's important to know, however, that GFHS offices will see anyone who needs to see a doctor--including those with Medicaid or Medicare or other insurance--whether provided through an employer or paid by the individual.
Some GFHS patients are referred by area hospitals; others are directed there by social workers who recognize a need for medical care that might otherwise be unaffordable; but anyone and everyone is welcome to see GFHS doctors.
The new GFHS office will be open the same hours that Helping Hands previously operated: Monday-Friday 8 AM to 5 PM (closed 12:30 - 1:30 for lunch).
While the move to the new location is effective Monday (Jan. 7th), an Open House is scheduled for Wednesday January 23rd from 4 - 6 PM. A ribbon cutting is planned for 5:30 that evening.
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