Hurricane causes clinics to close, community responds to call for help

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The Caring Community Clinic is back serving its patients after receiving a little care itself following Hurricane Florence.

The home for the clinic, which provides free medical services, sustained extensive water damage from the hurricane and has relocated to the neighboring suite at Doctors Park at 200 Doctors Drive, Suite L, in Jacksonville.

With much of the furniture and medical supplies ruined, the clinic was fortunate to be able to reopen quickly due to the kindness of others.

“Once the community found out about our needs, they jumped to the task,” said Rosh Foskey, clinical director for Caring Community Clinic.

Onslow Memorial Hospital and Eye Care Center donated furniture for the lobby and Direct Relief, a humanitarian aid organization based in California, responded within days to provide supplies to help re-stock the clinic.

And there were many others.

“We received emails and phone calls from people wanting to help,” Foskey said.

And, in turn, the clinic has been able to re-open quickly to resume care for its patients, Foskey said.

For many, he said, the hurricane affected essential medical needs.

Foskey said many of their patients have diabetes and require insulin, which requires refrigeration. When power when out, they may have lost insulin supply.

“Some of the first calls I got were about a need for insulin,” he said.

The clinic serves Onslow County residents age 18 to 64 who are uninsured or significantly underinsured. The services are free and include assistance for diabetes, hypertension and COPD. It is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and some Thursday evenings.

Foskey said they have more than 2,600 regular patients who rely on them for assistance and about 60 new patients each month.

Patients were back in the clinic Monday and Foskey said they will initially be catching up on a backlog of rescheduled appointments due the storm.

“Today we are playing catch up due to the storm and appointments that were missed or cancelled,” Foskey said.

Onslow Community Outreach also operates a dental clinic that sees about 400 patients. The dental clinic, located in the Morgan Building at 1 DeWitt St. in Jacksonville, also received damage in the storm but not as extensive. Onslow Community Outreach Executive Director Theo McClammy said there was some sheetrock damage and flooding in the basement.

McClammy said now that the basement has dried out there are some minor repairs to be done and the dental clinic should reopen in the next week or two.

“I think that will happen pretty quickly,” he said.

In the first days after the storm, local relief efforts have also included volunteer medical assistance.

At Pathway Church in Beulaville, for instance, free tetanus shots were provided by Goshen Medical Center on one of the days its supply distribution center was open.

The hurricane relief supply distribution center in Swansboro also closed down but its efforts included a health committee that provided wellness checks on residents in the area in the days after the storm.

Ann King, of Swansboro, a family nurse practitioner who served as the medical team leader for the Swansboro-area relief efforts, said they had 32 volunteers from the medical field that provided assistance however they could.

King said they provided more than 1,200 volunteer hours and stepped in to help provide wellness checks and first aid for residents out in the community who needed it, from checking on elderly shut-ins to making sure they had food and were safe; passing out water and delivering hot meals to those stuck at home or without transportation; filling essential prescriptions for those who lost medications in the storm or had not refilled them; tending to cuts and scrapes; and just offering support.

“We also did a lot of mental health for reassurance and to ease anxiety,” King said.

With many medical offices closed in the area due to damage or power outages, King said it was a way they could use their time to help out with relief efforts.

“It is nice to be able to use our education and training, particularly at a time like this,” she said.