Harvest: Clinic union is win-win

November 30, 2005

By Ginny Wray
Bulletin Staff Writer

Last spring, when the Free Clinic of Martinsville and Henry County was virtually broke, some people criticized The Harvest Foundation for not coming to its rescue.

Since the foundation was created with about $150 million in proceeds from the sale of Memorial Health Systems and health care is part of its mission, critics said it should have helped the clinic that was serving the area's neediest residents.

That help came with Monday's announcement that the clinic will become part of the Martinsville-Henry County Coalition for Health and Wellness.

"We're absolutely delighted," said Harry Cerino, executive director of The Harvest Foundation, which helped form the coalition earlier this year."  "What Harvest cares about is the quality of health services delivered to the community and I think this is a win-win situation because it will provide sustainable health care to the community through a good structure that not only Harvest but other folks would be more inclined to support."

The coalition will oversee the clinic's operations and administration, including helping it seek funds.  It can apply to The Harvest Foundation for grants, as well as other institutions and organizations, for the clinic.

The Harvest Foundation gave the clinic a $22,000 grant in 2002 but later terminated it when the clinic board did not agree to a board development process, officials with both the foundation and the clinic said at the time.  The union of the two groups announced this week resolves that concern, Cerino said.

The clinic will have an advisory board, which will report the coalition board, according to Cerino and Barbara Jackman of the coalition.  Board members will undergo the development process that Harvest insisted on before, Cerino said.

Cerino said the issue had been discussed for several months, and he added that clinic officials "did an outstanding job&on thinking the whole process through.  Nobody there or at the coalition wanted to compromise.  They wanted to do it the right way."

"I'm sorry we couldn't say anything" about the discussions resulting in the union, he said Tuesday, adding  that he felt The Harvest Foundation was unfairly criticized for not helping the clinic earlier.

"But that's OK," he said.  "The important thing to us was to develop a sustainable model.  We wanted to do it in the right way.  We're optimistic about the future.  We think the clinic is going to get better and better.  The services it delivers will be more and more meaningful."


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