Celebrating The Heart In The Heart Of Virginia

Published 5:05 pm Thursday, May 5, 2011

Concern that a free clinic at the corner of Third and Main Street might be out of place, create parking issues, and negatively impact business may now disappear like breath on a mirror when we step away from the reflection.

The clients-working people, or folks between jobs, who don't have health insurance-would be seen by appointment-only.

And those appointments would be scheduled for after 5 p.m.

If the Heart of Virginia Free Clinic does locate in the offered space formerly occupied by the Daily Grind-and no decision has been made-it will be a contributing member of the Farmville community and downtown in the Heart of Virginia.

A business, by all appearances, like any other, except that it will be non-profit and open after normal business hours.

There won't be lines of people on the sidewalk outside the door, or people hanging out waiting to be seen.

Downtown parking spaces will be just as available for customers of the retail and professional community as they are now.

Rev. Sylvia Meadows applied healing balm to such concerns during her recent presentation to Town Council on the possibility of the free clinic accepting the offered Daily Grind space.

“All of the clients that will be seen in the free clinic will be scheduled for appointments. There will not be long lines of people waiting for hours,” Rev. Meadows told Town Council. “There will be eligibility screening for each person or family that is served by the free clinic. Some of the eligibility screening will occur during the daytime but much of it will be in the evening. And medical appointments for the clinic itself will all be after 5 p.m. at night because we are being served by volunteers-volunteer doctors, volunteer nurses, nurse practitioners-so it will not even be during the daytime that the clinic will initially see folks.”

Wherever it is located, the free clinic will look and act like any other professional office building, like any other medical office. An addition, not a subtraction, to Farmville and in keeping with its role as a regional leader, the place people look to and come to for goods and services they can find nowhere else. In this case, the Farmville area is one of the last regions in the state not served by a free clinic and its rate of uninsured-most of them working people-is as high as it is anywhere.

In fact, the free clinic's board of directors is working directly with the group Volunteers In Medicine, whose executive director will be visiting Farmville later this month. VIM has opened 85 free clinics in the U.S. and one of those is in Hilton Head, South Carolina, providing ample evidence that they can meet the standards even of a resort destination.

Regarding parking, Rev. Meadows rightly observed, “it seems to me that whatever is in that building will have the same type of parking issues that any business would.”

No more, certainly, but perhaps far less because its 18 to 64-year-old clients-many of them likely working in Farmville already-would be coming to the Heart of Virginia Free Clinic after 5 p.m. when most other businesses have closed their doors for the day.

A perfect fit, really.

And a reminder.

The Heart of Virginia Free Clinic will exist and open its doors, wherever it locates, because other doors to necessary medical care-treatment and medicine for basic stuff like high cholesterol, diabetes, and asthma-have been closed by a lack of health insurance.

Tomorrow is the Heart of Virginia Festival.

Main Street is going to be packed.

High Street will be filled with people.

The entire downtown area a sea of humanity.

A sea of humanity that truly needs and deserves the compassionate care that volunteer doctors and nurses are willing to provide at the Heart of Virginia Free Clinic.

Downtown Farmville, we all know and understand, isn't just for those who already have everything they need. In fact, those who already have everything they need stay at home. They don't go shopping anywhere to buy anything or hire any professional service.

In truth, downtown Farmville exists specifically for people who do not have everything they need and it is that need, in fact, and filling that need which is the life and breath of those transacting business there. Or anywhere else.

Look at the faces tomorrow. There will be thousands of them at the Heart of Virginia Festival, filling downtown. Hundreds of those faces may see their reflection in the door of that building at the intersection of Third and Main Street.

Perhaps yours will be among them.

Go ahead, open that door.

Breathe the breath of life on the reflection.