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Free medical clinic planned

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GOUVERNEUR — A free medical clinic for the uninsured is planned for Gouverneur, but it could draw patients from a much wider area.

There are about 37,000 uninsured people, not including children, in Lewis, St. Lawrence and Jefferson counties, said Rachel I. Raven, a nurse practitioner who has worked on establishing the free clinic for the last year and a half.

“We’re just trying to reach out and provide primary care,” she said. “It’s really just to help the people out.”

Mrs. Raven said she has lined up half a dozen medical providers who will donate time to the part-time clinic that will be in the Mini-Mall.

The clinic will be modeled on one that operates in Massena. It might provide Pap smears, breast and prostate exams and ongoing care for chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

It likely would be open one day a week in the evening by appointment only.

“We want our patients to be established,” Mrs. Raven said. “We’ll start small. If we have the manpower, we may open up more.”

She is working on how to handle labs and radiology, along with filing for nonprofit status and lining up other volunteers.

Mrs. Raven said she hopes to have everything set up, including certification from the state Department of Health, in time to open in May.

“We do need $8,500 to get off and running,” Mrs. Raven said.

A meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Nov. 25 at Trinity Episcopal Church for anyone interested in more information, potential volunteers and fundraisers.

Call Marlene Quarry, 287-4630, for more information.

Furniture and equipment have come from Andrew LaFrance, another medical provider who closed a practice in Edwards and is now affiliated with Canton-Potsdam Hospital, Potsdam.

Mrs. Raven also works with Canton-Potsdam Hospital, but the free clinic will not be affiliated with any particular hospital.

The free clinic has nothing to do with recent problems at E.J. Noble Hospital, which was closed Sept. 28 by the Health Department, and then allowed to partially reopen.

“This was in the works way before anything happened there,” Mrs. Raven said.

She has named the facility Gouverneur Free Clinic 1st John 3:18 in reference to a biblical passage about showing love with actions.

“It’s Christian based, but we’re not going to push religion on people,” Mrs. Raven said.

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