In the Spring of 2003, Matthews United Methodist Church parish nurse, Gail Dokes, RN, gathered a group of diverse volunteers to pursue a dream of starting a free health clinic in the Matthews area. Preliminary studies determined that more than 24,000 individuals were uninsured n the Matthews area and were in need of medical care. The Volunteers in Medicine Institute was contacted for help in developing the clinic. Following their timelines and protocols for development, our small clinic was able to receive tax-exempt status and open its doors in February 2004, under the direction of Lou Ann McAdams, MD, Medical Director, and Gail Dokes, RN, Executive Director. The clinic, located in a small white house at 113 N. Ames Street, Matthews, NC was able to operate rent-free for the first year thanks to a generous donation by a Matthews philanthropist. Starting operating costs were contributed by Matthews United Methodist Church and individual donors. Lab Corps generously provided needed laboratory testing, and most of the medical equipment was donated from other doctor offices. Radiology services were provided by Presbyterian Hospital Matthews and Mecklenburg Radiology Associates.
MFMC primarily relies on volunteers to carry out our mission, but also must operate with some paid employees. We currently have a small staff of five a full-time executive director, a full-time nurse manager, a part-time medical assistant, and a part-time administrative assistant. Also on staff are a volunteer medical director and a pharmacist from Wingate University. We currently have 12 volunteer providers in addition to the medical director.
A volunteer Board of Directors oversees the operations of MFMC and helps to coordinate fundraising. MFMC relies on two annual fundraisers, the spring golf tournament, and the Hearts & Hands Together Benefit, which is a black tie dinner and live auction. These annual events are critical to our operating funds. The 7th Annual Golf Tournament held on Monday, April 30, 2012 raised over $78,000 and the first annual Hearts & Hands Together Benefit exceeded our expectations raising a little over $58,000 for the clinic.
The Clinic also applies for numerous grants throughout the year to help with the purchase of medical equipment, medications, and programs. Grants requests for 2010 were awarded from several different organizations including the North Carolina Association of Free Clinics, Blue Cross/Blue Shield Foundation of North Carolina, NC Department of Health and Human Services, Mecklenburg Medical Alliance, Grace and Hope Foundation, Pfizer Pharmecuticals, The Leon Levine Foundation, and Matthews Women’s Club Service League. Several local civic agencies also support the Clinic including the Matthews Rotary Club, the Matthews Civitan Club, the Matthews Lions Club, the Knights of Colombus, Presbyterian Hospital Matthews Community Health Alliance, and the Matthews Chamber of Commerce. Other contributors include local churches, businesses and individuals, and annual workplace giving campaigns from Presbyterian Hospital’s “Caring Beyond our Walls” and the Wells Fargo Community Support Campaign.