about the clinic
The idea for a local medical clinic to serve the "working poor", or those who are employed but cannot afford or are not offered insurance through their employers, came out of a discussion among members of the Abingdon Episcopal Church outreach committee in 1997. As enthusiasm for the idea spread from the church members to the community, including local medical professionals, it wasn’t long before their idea came to life.
Supporters kicked off a fundraising campaign to establish the Clinic and raised $74,000– enough to cover operational expenses through 1998. By December 1997, the Gloucester Mathews Free Clinic was founded.
Furthering the impressive efforts of the initial fund drive, the Riverside Walter Reed Hospital contributed a matching grant of $25,000 and offered the use of its former 1,200 sq-ft satellite facility at Gloucester Point. Continuous efforts by volunteers and community partners pushed funding for the Clinic to surpass its goal by March 1998. A mere 6 months later, on the hot and humid evening of August 1, 1998, we celebrated a ribbon cutting and saw our first 12 patients.
From mid-1998 through the early 2000’s, the Clinic's patient population continued to grow, as did the number of volunteers and services provided. Medical providers throughout the community volunteered their time and cared for patients by appointment during evening hours.
ADVANCEMENTS TO THE PHARMACY
From the very beginning, Clinic founding members Dr. Fred Arnold and Peggy Bowditch insisted on the need for an in-house pharmacy in order to guarantee that patients had access to prescribed medications. The pharmacy at Gloucester Mathews Free Clinic was operated solely by volunteers until early 2003, when the growing patient population and need for a more consistent presence in the pharmacy prompted the hiring of the first paid part-time Pharmacist. Today, the pharmacy dispenses thousands of prescriptions annually, valued at over $1.6M.
BEGINNINGS OF A DENTAL PROGRAM
2003 brought a group of Clinic partners together to address the fact that although able to treat patients medically, there was no means by which to address dental needs. Recognizing that many illnesses are a result of poor oral hygiene and subsequent oral decay and infection, the Dental Committee strived to gain the necessary funding to offer access to dental treatments as well as securing state of the art dental equipment. The first dental patients were seen by volunteer dentists in the area at their own offices, and later a mobile dental clinic was utilized while the campaign continued for a permanent facility. Dr. Chuck Harris, DDS agreed to serve as dental clinic director. Volunteer and prior Board President Ann Quinn led the initiative to open a permanent facility for GMCC dental patients in the years that followed, and worked tirelessly until the end of her life to ensure that uninsured residents had access to quality dental as well as medical care. In 2021, the dental clinic was officially named for Ann Quinn.
With the number of patient appointment requests nearly doubling the availability of the Clinic by 2007, the Board took action. They applied for and received a generous grant of $78,000 from the Williamsburg Health Foundation, which allowed them to hire a part-time Physician’s Assistant. Under the supervision of the Medical Director, the PA on site opened the Clinic to support day-time patient appointments. To date, this action has been one of the most impactful and significant decisions made to further how the Clinic operates and treats patients.
After 16 years at Gloucester Point, GMCC leadership looked for a larger, more modern facility to support its continuously growing patient population as well as the expanding programs offered. In 2014, the Clinic moved to its current 9,000 sq-ft location, and updated its name from "Free Clinic" to "Care Clinic." A dental clinic with three state-of-the-art operators was added to the facility shortly thereafter.
The healthcare landscape in Virginia shifted dramatically when Medicaid eligibility was expanded in 2019, and approximately 75% of GMCC patients suddenly became eligible for Medicaid. Staff and volunteers helped them enroll.
As a result, the GMCC Board decided in 2019 to transition to a “hybrid” business model for the Clinic. In 2020, while continuing to care for our uninsured residents, we also began accepting Medicaid-enrolled patients. This shift has provided uninterrupted health care for those in need for the long-term. GMCC is now able to be a consistent medical home for patients, regardless of fluctuating income or employment status, or Medicaid coverage.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic required GMCC to innovate delivery of care and medications, to include telemedicine. The pandemic significantly impacted our volunteers and operations, but our team ensured that our patients received all care and medications needed during that challenging time.
Today, the Gloucester Mathews Care Clinic continues to build on its humble beginnings and remains passionately committed to providing access to basic healthcare and education services to the residents of Gloucester, Mathews, and surrounding areas. We provide integrated care to over 400 patients annually and are proud to offer medical, dental, behavioral health, and pharmacy services all under one roof.
The mission of the Gloucester Mathews Care Clinic is to provide community-based healthcare for the residents of Gloucester and Mathews counties, and select surrounding areas, who lack health insurance, or are covered by Medicaid. We achieve this through the efforts of volunteers, paid professionals and support staff, and contributions from members of the community who share our values and concern.
Our vision is everyone from Gloucester and Mathews Counties having access to basic healthcare, including medical, dental and patient health education.