Brief History of the Community Free Clinic of Newport News
The Community Free Clinic of Newport News located at 727-25th Street, opened November 23, 2010 to provide primary medical and dental care for uninsured residents of the Virginia Peninsula. The Clinic founder Golden H. Bethune-Hill, a retired Health Care Executive grew up in the Southeast Community of Newport News. Mrs. Bethune-Hill and her husband, Mr. Charlie W. Hill, a retired business executive and a founding board member, recognized the need and were compelled to do something for the Community in which both of them lived until they left the area to attend college. She collaborated with Dr. McKinley Price a local dentist and currently the Mayor of Newport News who shared their interest. Dr. Price also grew up in the Southeast Community and is still a community resident. In addition, Dr. Price served on the Riverside Hospital Board and as President of the Riverside Health Care Foundation. With Dr. Price’s support and that of Mr. Richard Pearce, President and Mr. Bud Ramey, Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations of the Riverside Health System, the Clinic became a reality. Mr. Ramey also served as Vice President of the Riverside Health Care Foundation and is a founding board member of the Clinic.
Mrs. Hill interviewed a large and diverse group of community leaders and organizations to assess the community’s response to the need for a Clinic. She heard loud and clear that there was a need. “Heal Thy Generations” a community group focused on health, led by Dr. Saundra Cherry, provided great community support. Area hospitals, the local health department led by Dr. David Trump, the Newport News School System led by Dr. Ashby Kilgore, Community of Faith groups and other supporters were asked to partner with the Clinic to support its ongoing During 2009 when the need for the Clinic was determined, the City of Newport News had approximately 180,000 residents. In the same report, 40,000 or 22% lived in the Southeast section of the City. Many within this population are poor, uninsured and predominately black.
More than 50% of the residents living in the zip code of 23607 in the Southeast Community had incomes below the federal poverty level of 200% (2005 Peninsula Department of Health Report). These residents according to the same report used hospital services (emergency and hospital) at a rate that was twice the rate for all residents of Newport News and the State of Virginia. This information and other similar reports validated the need that so many had echoed. There is no recent evidence that the current condition for this population has changed Riverside Health System, W.M. Jordan Construction Company, Spain Commercial, Delta Dental, the Sentara Health Care Foundation, the Virginia Health Care Foundation, the City of Newport News, Communities of Faith (Carver Memorial Presbyterian, First Baptist Church Denbigh, and First Baptist Church Jefferson Park), the Newport News Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Lambda Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the Newport News Links, The Denbigh Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and many individuals have made major financial donations and commitments to support the Clinic.
The Clinic is a 501© 3 organization and the mission is to provide continuous high quality primary medical and oral health care for the uninsured residents of the Virginia Peninsula.
The objectives of the Clinic are:
- Provide primary medical and dental care for uninsured residents of the Virginia Peninsula.
- Provide a medical home for residents to coordinate care.
- Promote wellness and disease prevention by offering well clinics and health care education.
- Promote medical literacy and self- care.
- Improve the Community’s health status.
- Provide health care screenings and specialty clinics to detect health problems early so that intervention may occur.
- Establish and facilitate support groups for men and women to promote health care.
The Clinic’s founding Board of Directors represents a broad swath of the community leaders including the Chief of Police of Newport News, the Superintendent of Newport News Schools, two pastors of churches located in the 23607 zip code, a prominent cardiologist who also lived in the area and other community advocates.