Saturday, May 13, 2006

Bay St Louis Medical Clinic Thank You


A 5/9 Note From Charles....

As its administrator, yesterday morning I posted the following notice on our door:

“The Free Clinic which has been operated by the Loudoun Medical Group here in the Depot since September 12, 2005, will be closing at the end of this month (May).

Until the end of this month, however, we will continue to serve the people of Bay St, Louis in whatever way we can.We would suggest that now is the time to make arrangements for your future medical care, whether through a private local physician or by utilizing Coastal Family Health.

Thank you, from all of us who have worked in the clinic, for your faith in us, your cooperation, and your patience – they have been truly appreciated and we will miss you.

Charles”

In all honesty, it was with very mixed emotions that we came to the decision to close. The people of Bay St. Louis and Hancock County have been welcoming, supportive, and grateful in the extreme for the presence we have had here. Their healthcare system was badly damaged by Katrina in both a physical and figurative sense, but it has begun the process of recovery and should be fully functional in a relatively short time. During the eight months we have been here, we have had more than 18,000 patient visits for everything from athlete’s foot to myocardial infarctions. As the weather has improved over the past few weeks, the number of people being seen for upper respiratory infections has dropped considerably, and our daily patient totals are now in the high sixties versus the more than one hundred a day that we were seeing a few weeks ago. Additionally, as local doctors have reopened their practices on a more full-time basis, their patients are beginning to return to them.

I’m not at all sure that there is any adequate way to thank all of the people across this country for the support they have given us, for the supplies and medicines sent, and for the volunteers who continue to help us on a daily basis. From the lady in Truckee, CA, who with her organization, sends us nebulizers, to the City Action Partnership of Birmingham, AL, which with the help of the Diabetes Trust Foundation has furnished us with countless glucometers, to the doctors and nurses who have “raided” their own drug closets, we are eternally grateful.

Believe me, the people of this region are by no means back on their feet yet. While small businesses are reopening every day, the major employers have not reopened and will not reopen before at least August. To go to a real grocery store, I still have to drive to another town some ten miles away. Just this morning, in the Laundromat, I met a woman in her late sixties or early seventies who is still lives in a tent; that is not an unusual occurrence. Nor is the case of another person, who, even as I write this on a Sunday afternoon, is on her way to the clinic to fill a prescription because she has no money to pay for it at the drug store yet needs the medicine before tomorrow.

What I’m trying to say is simply this: for those of you who are involved with the Katrina Coalition and Katrina Networking, please, please don’t forget these people. They don’t necessarily receive all of the publicity that their neighbor to the West does, but their needs remain, and they are counting on people like you to help them in their recovery process. And for all of them, if I might, let me thank you and assure you that you are in their thoughts and prayers.

Charles Beardsley

A 5/4 Update From Angie Beamer - Master Scheduler for the clinic...

You should know we are pulling out at the end of May, the Hancock County Hospital and Coastal Family Health are prepared to take on our patients. We are staffed through the end of May except for Wed. and Sat. of each week, with volunteers from Coastal Family Health.

A major progress victory!

A 3/14 update from Charles Beardsley, the founder of the clinic....

In many respects, not much has changed in the sense that we still see between 90 to 110 patients per day, the vast majority having upper respiratory infections, staph (which seems to be endemic down here) and/or diabeties related issues.

As time has passed, the number of donated medications which we receive has fallen off considerably, but conversely, the number of glucometers and nebulizers which we have been receiving has actually increased to the point where I am able to give some to the clinics in Picayune and D'Iberville, Mississippi. I suppose that this latter occurrance is a benefit of the passage of time -- people now know we are still here and will be for a considerable time and at least in the way of "equipment" are being very generous. (Of course, we still need test strips and inhalants.)

The drug companies, conversely, have become much less generous than they were in the beginning, and buying drugs from local pharmacies in stock bottle quantities is horribly expensive. My favorite example is this: at a local pharmacy, knowing that the drugs are for use by the free clinic, a quantity of 300 amoxicillin 250mg capsules cost us $98; in Leesburg, at an independent pharmacy, they will sell us 500 amoxicillin 500mg capsules for $20. I can't rationalize the difference and nor can other pharmacists with whom I've discussed this. The price differences carry over into all of the drugs that we buy, and believe me we are now buying many drugs.

When we first came here, and through the month of December, we were able to fill the "slots" we had for doctors, nurse practitioners and nurses with no problem. As the sense of urgency over Katrina's impact here has lessened, I suspect in part because of the continued news coverage that is devoted to New Orleans, "recruiting" for weekly visits has become more difficult.

As a result, we are now using personnel from, honestly, all over the country, who have been generous enough to come down and help. We've had them come from as far away as California and as close as Alabama, and while gaps exist in future coverage, we are hopeful that the spots will fill by the time the need is here.

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