The seeds of the idea for a Free Medical Clinic were planted locally in 1996 when I approached Raymond Graeca, President of DRMC, to discuss how other communities nationwide were addressing an unfulfilled need in health care.
Mr. Graeca was acutely aware of the increasing number of cases being treated at DRMC that became “emergencies” because uninsured patients were avoiding preventive care they could not afford.
We realized that we had working people coming to the hospital with no insurance. There were too many sad situations that DRMC personnel were treating routinely.
It was a gap in the system; working people not eligible for government assistance and not covered by employer insurance programs. Right then, we decided that we needed to find an answer for those people outside the system.
Information was gathered from existing clinics followed by a visit to the closest clinic in Roanoke, Virginia. Hospital staff gathered statistics on the number of uninsured patients served by DRMC. With this supportive information, a proposal to open a clinic locally was presented to potential donors.
Because of the generosity of DRMC and the community, the vision became a reality when the doors of the Free Medical Clinic of DuBois, Inc. opened to its first patients in Marc, 1998. Space was donated by Dr. Dennis Parlavecchio at his offices in the former S&T Bank building on W. Long Avenue (presently broadcast studios of WDSN) for Clinic operation on Tuesday evenings. The Clinic was staffed by medical and non-medical volunteers, and supported by monetary and material donations.
Under the leadership of Elvie delaTorre who was hired as Executive Director in 1999, the Clinic has continuously expanded its services and its reach. The donations of time and talent necessary to operate the clinic have increased to keep pace.
In 2000, DRMC bought the building at 47 W. Long Avenue, and offered space rent free to the Clinic. The back portion of the first floor of the building was occupied by dental offices until 2005. In 2007, the Clinic expanded to fill the entire space, refurbished through grant money and donated labor by DRMC. In 2009, the Clinic provided medical services with over 2,500 patient visits at this location.
We are proud of what has been accomplished since 1998, and we always keep our mission before us as we plan for the future. We strive to provide the working uninsured medical care and pharmaceutical services with dignity and confidentiality in an easily accessible facility.
~ Sr. Rita Kartavich