Community Clinic receives much-needed funding |

Community Clinic receives much-needed funding

Sherry McManus / Associates in PhotographyAmy Smith, family nurse practitioner, performs a well child check on a 4-year-old Helen Aquino in the Barton Community Clinic. As a family nurse practitioner, Smith treats patients for their total well-being and not just for illnesses.

When patients see a family nurse practitioner such as Amy Smith for medical care, they are receiving expertly trained health care specialists who treat an illness as part of a person’s total well-being.

“What I love about working here at Barton’s Community Clinic is being part of a staff that really cares about our patients and being able to see patients who wouldn’t otherwise receive medical care,” Smith said.

Smith is part of the clinic’s staff of five family nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants, four registered nurses, four medical technicians and six support staff who provide top-quality medical care to thousands of patients who are uninsured, underinsured or Medi-Cal recipients. Payments are on a sliding scale and based on income. Many pay as little as $5 for office visits and medical treatments.

Nurse practitioners must have at least a master’s degree in nursing and some already have doctoral degrees. They then attend graduate school and become board certified in their specialty such as family/primary care, geriatrics or acute care.

Two entities that are helping to keep Amy Smith and the other family nurse practitioners busy taking care of patients are the Barton Auxiliary and the Barton Foundation. The auxiliary and the foundation joined forced to raise much-needed funds for the Community Clinic, which operated at a loss of more than $815,000 last year.

More than $340,000 will go to the Barton Community Clinic to purchase medical equipment, provide prescription medicines and to help fund an expansion that will add more patient examination rooms, add handicap bathrooms and other improvements that will enhance patient care.

“This generous donation from the auxiliary and foundation is so critically needed by our clinic and for our patient’s quality of care,” said Smith.

“We all feel like we are really doing a good service for our community by being able to provide low-cost or no-cost medical care,” she added.

The Barton Foundation hosted its first annual Festival of Trees and Lights in December, which included their annual gala, many family-friendly events, and Mrs. Claus’ Gift Shop operated by the Barton Auxiliary. That event raised more than $27,500 for the Community Clinic. In addition, the Barton Foundation gave additional gifts for medical equipment and patient care for a total gift to the Barton Community Clinic of more than $40,000.

The Barton Auxiliary unanimously voted to give all 2009 proceeds to the Barton Community Clinic for a total donation of $300,194.

The auxiliary members work year-round running the Barton Attic Thrift Store, the Barton Memorial Hospital Gift Shop, selling their world-famous cheese balls at the holidays and hosting their dazzling Holiday Fair gift store in early November at St. Theresa Catholic Church.

“Traditionally we have made our annual donation to Barton Memorial Hospital, but knowing how much in need our Community Clinic is, we decided that they could put it to the best use,” said Dan Kerr, auxiliary president.

Mike Riley, Barton Foundation president, is especially pleased that the two Barton entities are able to financially support the Community Clinic which has seen an increase of 16 percent of patient visits in the last two months and a 15 percent increase since the economic downturn and the rise in unemployment.

“Our clinic is working harder than ever to offer high-quality medical services to our community at a time when many can least afford it,” Riley said. “And we’re very proud to be able to help.”

Local officials estimate that South Lake Tahoe’s unemployment rate is somewhere around 18 percent, much higher than the national average, a direct cause for the clinic’s upsurge in patient overload.

If you are interested in supporting the Barton Community Clinic, contact the Barton Foundation at (530) 543-5614.

Denise Sloan Smart is a communications specialist at Barton Health.

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