06/28/07 — WATCH accepting patients again

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WATCH accepting patients again

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on June 28, 2007 1:45 PM

Wayne Action Teams for Community Health, or WATCH, is accepting new patients.

For nearly a year, the mobile unit that serves the uninsured and underinsured population of Wayne County has had to curtail services because it was at capacity, said Sissy Lee-Elmore, executive director of the program.

Recent announcements of funding being appropriated from both city and county sources contributed to the freeze being lifted.

The city of Goldsboro approved $20,000 for WATCH, while the county commission voted to designate $101,564 for the coming year.

Ms. Lee-Elmore said the appropriations allowed her to hire an additional staff member to work one day a week, freeing up nurse practitioner Sue Barnett to do necessary paperwork.

"We haven't expanded the days at this point," she said. "But we have opened it up to new patients again. We'll now have additional capacity because of the funding and will open for business for new people."

Slight changes are also expected to be made to the mobile van schedule. Ms. Lee-Elmore said she expects to make an official announcement later this summer.

In the meantime, she expressed gratitude to city and county officials that will allow WATCH to continue its services. The funding also opens up potential opportunities for funding from grants and other sources.

"This money is allowing us to leverage funds from other sources because we have a substantial match from local entities," she said.

The only fundraiser WATCH and the Wayne Health Foundation count on each year is a benefit golf tournament, which is in its eighth year. The next one is scheduled for Oct. 4. Last year's raised $60,000 for the program, Ms. Lee-Elmore said.

Now the only problem is making sure those who sign up for an appointment keep them. The "no-shows," Ms. Lee-Elmore said, are typically new patients rather than the established ones.

"Please keep your appointment because any appointment that's not kept is taking space from someone else," she advised.