07/28/05 — WATCH program earns grants, records 27,537 patient visits

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WATCH program earns grants, records 27,537 patient visits

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on July 28, 2005 1:46 PM

Wayne Action Team for Community Health, or WATCH, is still going strong after five years of service and this week received $35,000 worth of grants to support its efforts.

Dr. Clark Gaither, medical director for WATCH, told its board of directors Wednesday that with an estimated 6,500 patients enrolled, as of June 30 the mobile van clinic had provided 27,537 patient visits.

"I don't know that we aren't the busiest free clinic in North Carolina," he said. "It's been a great success."

WATCH, a group whose mission has been to help improve the health and quality of life for Wayne County residents, bought the 40-foot motor vehicle for public health in 1999. It has targeted an under-served population, especially those without health insurance or who do not qualify for assistance.

In addition to health services, the program has worked closely with drug companies to provide needed medications for patients.

"It's been a happy marriage," Gaither said, "not only to provide care but on the medications as well."

Sissy Lee-Elmore, WATCH director, said WATCH is still participating in a yearlong state project, providing services for 100 diabetes patients. A grant will allow that number to double, she said.

A $20,000 grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of N.C. Foundation through the N.C. Association of Free Clinics will provide for 100 patients to be added to the program.

The second base grant, for $15,000 and also from the Blue Cross Blue Shield foundation, will be used for mobile unit services.

During its July meeting, the board also recognized the efforts of its outgoing Substance Abuse Task Force chairperson.

Joyce Kelly of Wayne County Detox has worked with the task force for four years, serving as its chairperson for the past two years. She spearheaded such projects as public forums on smoking cessation and providing information and resources for families coping with addiction.

Upcoming events for later this year include a summit for teens and WATCH's largest fundraiser, a golf tournament, Ms. Lee-Elmore said.

The Teen Pregnancy Task Force is planning the summit for October. It is being funded by Wayne County Communities in Schools and will be attended by 120 high school students.

The sixth annual WATCH/Wayne Health Foundation benefit golf tournament is scheduled for Oct. 6.