By Carolyn Bowers
Published: Monday, July 26, 2010 at 9:07 a.m.
The staff, volunteers and supporters of New Hope Clinic celebrated the official opening of its new facility on July 17 with guided tours, refreshments, live music, speeches and three separate ribbon cuttings.
Representatives from each of the three local chambers of commerce – Brunswick County, North Brunswick and Southport-Oak Island – cut their respective ribbons, symbolizing the county’s support for this answer to the need for free medical and dental care.
Gretchen Bodinsky, president and chairman of the board, acknowledged Dr. Ziaollah Hashemi in her opening remarks as “the one who first recognized the need for a free clinic in Brunswick County in 1998,” and the one who started the first clinic. She recalled that when she told Irene Hennessey, one of the major donors for that first clinic, about the event, Hennessey said, “Hallelujah! It’s about time.”
Bodinsky told an audience of more than 200 friends, volunteers and supporters that the clinic is run by only four paid staff members, along with a volunteer staff of 130 doctors, nurses, physician assistants, dentists, pharmacists, and administrative personnel who handled more than 4,000 patient visits last year.
She then put in a brief plug for the clinic’s Building Fund Campaign.
The campaign is now fullyunder way. An elegant Donor Recognition Tree is mounted in the main lobby of the new building.
Supporters may have their name and a message permanently imprinted on a gold, silver, or bronze leaf. There are also some named gift opportunities still available to sponsor, including a medical exam room, a dental operatory or lab, patient eligibility rooms and doctors’ office.
Dr. Karen Wood, New Hope Clinic medical director, paid tribute to former executive director Connie Hendrix, who “made the clinic her life,” and said that “without her we wouldn’t be here today.” She told the crowd that Atlantic Realty real estate broker “David Berne not only donated the land, but he is the one who really spearheaded this project.”
She expressed her gratitude for the great job being done by Bodinsky and Sheila Roberts, executive director of the clinic.
Next she recognized the many hours and dedicated service of longtime volunteers Dave Anderson, Barbara Lidoski, Dr. Sid Fortney, Pam Johnson, Dora Loflin, Lynn Kuhn, Pat Hagerty, and Carmela Groce.
Nicole Lamoureux, executive director of the National Association of Free Clinics commented on the importance of free clinics nationwide and assured the crowd that, in spite of the newly passed health care legislation, “free clinics will always be needed.”
State Rep. Frank Iler, R-Brunswick, promised to “hook up folks from here to the folks in Raleigh.”
Last on the agenda, Southport-Oak Island Kiwanis Club President Dennis O’Connor presented Roberts with a $1,000 check to fund the children’s play area in the main lobby.
Lynn Kuhn, guiding a tour through the new building, contrasted it with the smaller former facility.
“This is an eligibility room,” she said. “And it’s really great because it’s no longer a bathroom.”
For more information, or to volunteer or make a tax-free donation, please call (910) 845-5333.