Reprinted with permission of The Pilot

Dining in the Pines Raises $63,500 for Clinic


BY CLAUDIA WATSON: SPECIAL TO THE PILOT

Dining in the Pines raised $63,500 for Moore Free Care Clinic during its third annual fundraiser held in late October. The funds will be directed to the clinic's Patient Pharmacy Program, which provides medications to clinic patients as a "stopgap" measure until other medication resources can be tapped.

"We are so grateful to the Dining In the Pines committee and all of the community who have made this fundraiser so special to us," says Laura Tremper-Jones, executive director. "Thanks to the continued support of this community, we are able to provide quality health care to the low-income, uninsured people in Moore County."

The clinic has a three-tiered system of medication assistance for its patients. After their initial exam, patients are provided with medication samples. If samples are not available, the medications are purchased through the Patient Pharmacy Program, which receives its funding from the Dining In the Pines fundraiser.

The patient is also enrolled in the Patient Assistance Programs offered by various pharmaceutical companies. These programs provide free medications to patients who qualify. The enrollment process for the pharmaceutical programs often takes weeks so the clinic provides medications via samples or by purchasing them until the validation is secured.

According to the clinic's fall quarterly report, medications valued at $509,489 were provided to patients since January. The Patient Pharmacy Program gave $41,000 in medications to patients. Samples, often provided by physicians' offices and pharmaceutical companies, were valued at $9,564. The bulk of the medications, valued at $458,925, were provided to patients who are enrolled in the Patient Assistance Programs offered by various pharmaceutical companies.

"Without the help of our Dining In the Pines guests and our corporate sponsors we would have to dip into our operating budget to support the growing number of patients who need medication assistance," says Tremper-Jones.

The clinic, which provides high-quality primary, preventive, and specialty health care to limited-income people in Moore County opened in April 2004 and currently serves 1,456 registered patients.

To qualify for assistance at the free clinic, patients must be at or below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Guideline. For instance, an individual would have an income of less than $15,315 annually, or $295 per week. The annual income for a family of four would be about $31,000.

Forty percent of the clinic's patients are employed but either cannot afford or do not have access to employer-offered health care benefits or they cannot afford health care insurance due to their low wages. They also do not qualify for public assistance programs, such as Medicaid or Medicare.

Dining In the Pines continues to grow in popularity and attracted a sellout crowd of 658 guests, who attended private dinner parties throughout Moore County. After dinner, many went to the Country Club of North Carolina for the "afterglow" of fun, cash bar, desserts, a uniquely-themed raffle, and live and silent auctions.

"Our guests and sponsors are just the best," says Bobbi Erdman, the event's chair. "We are so grateful for their enthusiasm for this event. Each year it grows, which is what we had hoped. Their support is instrumental to being able to pay for these medications at the free clinic."

Corporate sponsors included: Terry Riney Agency, Southern Pines Women's Health Center, Aberdeen Exterminating Co, Inc., Autowerks, Kay Beran Prudential, Gouger, O'Neal & Saunders, FirstBank Financial Services, Bill Reaves Construction Company, The Insurance Center, Bill Smith Ford/Lincoln Mercury, Jim Leach State Farm Insurance, Coldwell Banker United Realty, McDonald Brothers, The Neighborhood Dry Cleaners, Doctors' Vision Center, Breeden Construction Company, Martha Gentry's Home Selling Team, Dental Design Innovations, BB&T, Colony Shade & Custom Closets, Harris Printing Company, California Closets, Coastal Federal Credit Union, and Eastman Palmer & Davis Wealth Management.

During the evening, the Tremper-Jones also announced that the recipients of the Volunteer of the Year award were Mary Schneider and Virginia "Ginny" Dean.

Schneider, who is a member of the Dining In the Pines committee, also maintains the clinic's Web site, and has been instrumental in developing a new database for the clinic.

Dean, who provides administrative review of all patient charts, has volunteered at the clinic since it opened in 2004. Both will be honored at a reception in the early spring. Previous award recipients include David H. Bruton, M.D., the past chairman of the board, and Claudia Watson, a communications consultant and board member.

Gentry's Home Selling Team, Dental Design Innovations, BB&T, Colony Shade & Custom Closets, Harris During Moore Free Care Clinic is a registered 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation. It does not receive any federal or state funds and is dependent upon the generosity of the community to serve the needs of the limited-income uninsured. The clinic's audited financial statement is available by visiting its Web site, www.moorefreecare.org.

Those wishing to aid the clinic by considering a tax-deductible contribution may mail it to Moore Free Care Clinic, P.O. Box 161, Pinehurst, NC 28370. Donations may be made by credit card by visiting www.justgive.org. For more information about Moore Free Care Clinic call (910) 947-6550.

Claudia Watson is a Pinehurst freelance writer and may be contacted at cwatson87@ nc.rr.com.