Surry Medical Ministries Clinic recently received word it has been awarded a $49,992 grant from the North Carolina Association of Free & Charitable Clinics and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina to expand healthcare to underserved communities.
The two organizations awarded grants to five of the 70 free health clinics in North Carolina, handing out nearly $230,000 in total to communities “hardest hit by the pandemic,” according to the clinic.
COVID-19 has strained the clinic’s mostly volunteer workers, as well as made access to healthcare even more precarious to lower-income individuals.
“As the pandemic started, Surry Medical Ministries was closed for fix weeks due to the governor’s mandatory shutdown and a lack of PPE (personal protective equipment), yet the surge of COVID-19 increased office visits to almost 4,000 by year’s end,” the clinic said in a statement announcing the grant. During the winter spike of local COVID cases, the clinic added about 80 new patients to the twice weekly half-day clinics.
“Entering 2021, the demand continues to grow, patients are routinely waiting several weeks for an appointment,” the statement continued. “In response, Surry Medical Ministries has added additional clinic hours to ease the load during regularly scheduled office time, to ensure space for acute visits.…telehealth in areas with difficult transportation access has also been added in order to meet demand.”
The clinic also has added to its education and outreach efforts focusing on COVID-19 — with more than 1,500 vaccine referrals made.
”Telehealth visits have been a key component of inclusion, especially for farm workers in Surry County,” the statement said. “Farmworkers can contact our Community Health Workers to get triaged and set up a Telehealth appointment any time. Additionally, Community Health Workers complete weekly outreach to farms in the county to assess farmworkers who have been exposed to extreme weather conditions (such as heat) and provide health safety information and to make a visual welfare check. These aspects make SMM a key player in the Surry County effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and decrease health disparities.
To learn more about the clinic, visit www.SurryMedicalMinistries.com, or visit the agency’s Facebook page at FaceBook /Surry Medical Ministries.