The Matthews Free Medical Clinic is almost ready to welcome patients to its new home.
The nonprofit, which provides free medical care to low income, uninsured patients, will open the doors of its new location, 196 S. Trade St. in Matthews, on Monday, April 8. The clinic also will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Matthews Chamber of Commerce on April 18, a Thursday, from 5 to 6 p.m.
“It still doesn’t feel real. It’s so nice and hard to believe it’s ours,” Amy Carr, the clinic’s executive director, said. “I go over there every single day and see the progress. It’s really nice and we’re just grateful for the opportunity to do what we’re doing but also do it in this brand new, beautiful space.”
Carr and clinic volunteers are prepping for the “big move” on Saturday, April 6, when they’ll move office furniture, exam tables, medical equipment and more to the new location. Earlier this week, the free clinic was still waiting to receive a certificate of occupancy, which Carr expected to happen by the end of the week. Details were not available at press time.
Carr said the Easter holiday falling the week before the clinic was scheduled to open delayed things a bit and cold weather caused a few delays with renovations.
“The construction was a longer process than we anticipated but, really, they have been working later and longer to try to catch up,” Carr said. “Four days later than anticipated … it’s really not a big deal in the world of construction, but for us, we have patients so we were a little bit nervous but we think it’s going to all work out.”
The free clinic’s new location, known as the former Bradford Clinic, is owned by the Town of Matthews. Town commissioners agreed last year to lease the facility to the free clinic at a monthly rate of $4.50 per square foot. The clinic also was required to pay $165,145 in repairs and renovations – $143,105 of which will be applied as credit to the lease. The nonprofit Matthews HELP Center purchased the free clinic’s former location – a 1,400-square-foot building and .46 acres on Ames Street – for $150,000 as part of its own plans to expand.
Since it was founded in 2004, the free clinic has seen a dramatic increase in patients, which Carr credits partially to the poor economy. From 2008 to 2011, the number of patients treated grew from about 1,400 annually to more than 3,000 annually. Because of such exponential growth, the clinic was in desperate need of a new location with additional space.
At about 3,200 square feet, the new site includes four additional exam rooms, more office space, a conference room, an expanded pharmacy and more. The clinic plans to eventually offer diabetes
education classes and host exercise classes at the nearby Stumptown Park, Carr said.
Carr said the free clinic’s biggest need now is office furniture, as office space will be expanded. She added the clinic plans to establish an electronic record-keeping system later this year but in the meantime is in need of supplies, like paper and pens, as all records are currently kept on paper.
And, of course, volunteers of all kinds will be needed as the clinic continues to grow.
“We’re expanding our education and services and volunteer opportunities,” Carr said, “but we’re definitely doing it at a smart pace so we can do it well.”
For more information about the clinic or how you can volunteer, call 704-841-8882 or visit www.matthewshealthclinic.org.
Donations of office furniture, computer and notebook paper and pens can be dropped off at the clinic Monday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. or Tuesday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.