In 2003, the Southern Pines United Methodist Church held a health fair for its members after services one day to check for high blood pressure and other health issues which might be identified. When the health committee of the church met to evaluate this event the question was raised, “All of our members have health insurance! What should we be doing to care for those in our area who are uninsured and cannot afford access to health care?” The idea of a free medical clinic for Moore County was born that day. Dr. H. David Bruton, a retired pediatrician and former Secretary for Health and Human Services with the State of North Carolina, was a member of this congregation and participated in this event and the evaluation.
Around that same time, the church was involved in an effort to house homeless families. The pastor at that time, Rev. Mark W. Wethington got to know one of the families which were being assisted by the church. Some months later, after the family was settled in housing, he ran into one of the family members around town and asked how her father was doing. She said, “He died last month. My father never went to a doctor because he didn’t have health insurance and couldn’t afford to go, and then suddenly he ended up in the emergency room and they found cancer all in him. He did not live long after that.”
These events led Rev.
Wethington to write an article for the local newspaper, The Pilot,
about the need for a free clinic in the community. The day after the
article was published, Rev. Wethington received a phone call from a
local resident, asking him to come visit her and tell her more about
the free clinic concept. He made the visit, talked with her for
about one hour and then thanked her for her interest. The next day this
same woman came by the office and dropped off an envelope addressed to
A note inside read, “Open the doors” and included a check
for $100,000! In April 2004 the doors of the clinic were opened to
patients. This generous donor always wished to remain anonymous.
The clinic began seeing patients in 600 square feet of the Department of Health building in Carthage. The patient base quickly grew and the clinic quickly outgrew the space it had. In 2008, the clinic applied for two grants for capital funding, one from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust and the other from the Cannon Foundation in Concord, NC. Both rewarded grant monies to the clinic in the total amount of $180,000 which allowed the clinic to renovate a 3000 square foot space in Southern Pines. Renovations were completed and the clinic began seeing patients in its new location in May 2009. The new space includes a comfortable waiting area, examination rooms and offices.
Today the clinic serves approximately 950 active patients. In 2014,
the value of the services provided were estimated to be $6.9
million. This is all made possible thanks to the generous support of