Editorial – Free Clinic  still going strong 

Published 5:04 pm Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Time flies when you’re having fun — or doing good deeds. And the Western Tidewater Free Clinic is still flying high in its 16th year of operations.

The clinic on Meade Parkway in Suffolk ceremonially broke ground Friday on a major expansion of its dental services. The $1 million project was funded by the Obici Healthcare Foundation, Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation, the Hampton Roads Community Foundation and Violet Greco Foundation, supplemented by capital reserves accumulated since the clinic’s founding in 2007.

Some 1,000 square feet — and two dental chairs — will be added to the clinic’s dental suite, allowing WTFC to serve an additional 200-plus patients per year. Such is the demand for healthy teeth and gums that the clinic hired its first permanent, full-time dentist last year.

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“This is the perfect time to celebrate our accomplishments, while also setting the stage for us to serve more patients through this expansion,” said Executive Director Ashley Greene.

It doesn’t seem like 16 years since the clinic opened in cramped quarters on Godwin Boulevard, serving people in Suffolk, Isle of Wight, Franklin and Southampton who did not qualify for government-funded health care but couldn’t afford or didn’t have access to employer-provided health insurance. Since then, the clinic has diversified to accept some Medicaid patients.

“Our ultimate goal with this expansion is to serve more patients in need of our services and we thank all those who have supported these efforts.”

In addition to dental services, the clinic provides primary non-emergency care, case management, laboratory and diagnostic testing and prescription medications.

In celebrating the dental expansion, it’s important to remember the untold volunteer hours devoted to the clinic’s success over the past 16 years. Isle of Wight Countians like Charlie and Stephie Broadwater were faithful board members for many years. The financial generosity of many in this community has been equally important.

An annual donation or a few volunteer hours a month will go a long way toward ensuring the clinic’s ongoing success. To explore possibilities, call the free clinic at 923-1060 or visit https://wtfreeclinic.org/