CHESAPEAKE CARE CLINIC
Celebrating 25 years of helping the community
by Kymberly Bach
“Now, I can live again!” Erica says. Without the help of the Chesapeake Care Clinic, she might not be here today.
After losing her job and health insurance, Erica experienced a sudden illness that sent her to the ER. She was told she needed expensive heart medicines and heart surgery. Both were out of her ability to attain so Chesapeake Care Clinic stepped in and got the 14 lifesaving prescriptions that would have cost her almost $2,000 per month. She needed these for several months before her heart function improved enough to have the critical surgery she needed.
During the surgery she developed a complication – a large blood clot. The surgeon told her that without the cardiac medications that she used before the procedure she wouldn’t have survived the complication. Erica says, “I feel like I was given a new heart and owe my life to the people who helped me with my medication and care.”
The Chesapeake Care Clinic is celebrating 25 years of providing quality health and dental care to the citizens of Chesapeake. Executive Director Dourina Petersen and Board Chairman Michael Corcoran have been a part of the organization for much of that time, and they strive to continue to help the uninsured or poorly insured obtain the services they need.
In celebration of this significant milestone, an endowment fund is being established. Michael explains, “The purpose of the endowment fund is to keep the clinic running long term. It is a legally restricted fund where people can make donations and the institution itself can also contribute, but the principal cannot be touched - only the interest income can be used to support operations.”
Board member Meribeth Wilkinson explains, “We are working with the Chesapeake 100 Society - one hundred Chesapeake individuals or businesses that help support our work by making a $1,000 donation to the endowment fund.”
The care clinic was started in 1992 by Dr. Juan Montero, who saw the need for preventative, no- or low-cost medical services to help those most at risk. The clinic, primarily a volunteer organization, performs about 4,000 medical examinations a year and receives much needed support from donations, the city, and other health organizations.
The selfless team of volunteers includes a staff of over 65 doctors, nurse practitioners, dentists, pharmacists, clerical staff, administrative support and more. One hundred doctors in private practice also see patients, and Catholic Charities provides onsite mental health services four times a week. The clinic’s volunteers often arrive for the evening directly from their full time jobs, and several local restaurants and churches contribute meals to keep them going. Of course, there is always a need for additional volunteers, funding, donations as well as more physicians and dentists.
“I feel like I was given a new heart
and owe my life to
the people who helped me
with my medication and care.”
—Erica, Chesapeake Care Clinic patient
Dourina started as a volunteer 20 years ago, became the first full time employee 18 years ago, and the Executive Director two years ago. “It’s such a nice feeling to be here because the volunteers really want to help others; working here makes one feel grateful for the things that they have, and it puts everything in perspective. There is a definite love for people here and I’m proud to be a part of it,” she smiles.
Chesapeake Regional Hospital is a major supporter of the clinic. While working there, Michael was appointed to the board, and became very familiar with the clinic. “There is such a sense of satisfaction knowing that we have the ability to help those in need. Even though I left the hospital about nine years ago, I stayed on here to help make a difference in our community.”
Michael continues, “We really emphasize the importance of preventative care because we have a number of patients who have diabetes and hypertension. We work really hard to get them into an ongoing program to get and keep their conditions under control. The Chesapeake Regional Medical Center works in conjunction with the clinic in an innovative program to support the nurse practitioner who helps monitor patients. Many times, uninsured patients will be treated in the hospital’s ER, but they don’t get the appropriate follow up care and end up going back to the ER. We try to prevent those readmissions by scheduling follow up appointments for the patients, and by keeping them on preventative medications so that they are not being seen again and again for the same problem.”
Dourina adds, “Good dental health is essential to a patient’s overall well being, so in 2012 we added a new wing called the Hampton Roads Dental Center. We provide cleanings, fillings, extractions and sometimes even periodontal procedures.”
Dr. David Crouse, a semi-retired dentist since 2000, volunteers several days a month and welcomes the company after his wife passed away five years ago. “I’m around young people most of the time and it helps to keep me young and my mind active. I really enjoy my patients - they are my favorite part!” Dr. Crouse remarks.
The Chesapeake Care Clinic has even been able to assist patients with affordable prescriptions through their on-site pharmacy. “Through our Medication Assistance Program we were able to provide over 10,000 medications for patients,” Dourina describes. “We primarily have medicines for chronic disease management. In addition, we have a full time employee who will contact pharmaceutical companies and request donated medication on behalf of our patients.”
The generosity of the community has been life-changing for patients, and the Chesapeake Care Clinic would like to thank everyone who has supported them over the years. They look forward to another 25 years of making a difference in the lives of their neighbors in Chesapeake and Hampton Roads.
Chesapeake Care Clinic
2145 S. Military Hwy.
Chesapeake, VA 23320