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New center provides free health care to Iredell women

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/18/17/40/2kPqj.Em.138.jpeg|250
    ROCHELLE DEARMAN/SPECIAL TO THE OBSERVER - COURTESY OF ROCHELLE DEARMAN
    Client Amanda Snyder, left, and Susan Wolff, HealthReach Community Clinic’s director of development and communications, listen to speakers at Friday’s grand opening.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/18/17/40/1mP60.Em.138.jpeg|361
    ROCHELLE DEARMAN/SPECIAL TO THE OBSERVER - COURTESY OF ROCHELLE DEARMAN
    Amanda Snyder, 34, of Mooresville, was the first client to receive a free Pap smear at HealthReach Community Clinic’s new women’s center.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/18/17/40/1443R8.Em.138.jpeg|347
    ROCHELLE DEARMAN/SPECIAL TO THE OBSERVER - COURTESY OF ROCHELLE DEARMAN
    Victoria Tucker, a Mooresville water aerobics instructor, received free health care services at HealthReach Community Clinic in Mooresville.

MOORESVILLE Amanda Snyder is a full-time student who works two part-time jobs.

The 34-year-old Mooresville mother of four can barely meet her monthly expenses. She can’t afford even the lowest-priced health care insurance. Often, she said, “I have to choose between eating and paying the light bill.”

Snyder fought tears as she told her story at Friday’s grand opening of a women’s center in Mooresville’s HealthReach Community Clinic. The clinic provides free medical services to Iredell County residents each year who can’t afford health care coverage.

Even with the federal Affordable Care Act, which mandates that people have health care insurance, an estimated 6,000 Iredell County residents will still be be unable to obtain coverage for a variety of reasons, U.S. Census Bureau estimates show.

That’s where free clinics such as HealthReach, which relies entirely on community donations, come in.

HealthReach provides free medical, pharmaceutical, chiropractic and other health care-related services. Patients must have a gross yearly income at 250 percent or less than the federal poverty level, Executive Director Rory Crawford said. For a family of four, that represents about $58,875.

The clinic handles at least 3,800 patient visits each year and fills at least 12,000 prescriptions and prescription refills in-house. About 1,200 Iredell County residents are served – mostly white, middle-aged women who work but face long-term health issues, Crawford said.

That includes women such as Victoria Tucker, who never needed the clinic’s services until a divorce two years ago. “HealthReach was there to help me,” she said at Friday’s event.

The clinic’s new women’s center, which is basically an exam room, came about thanks to a donation from the national Discount Tire chain’s Driven to Care Foundation. The donation is paying for medical professionals to do 16 hourlong visits a month with female clients; for the first time, it will pay for their Pap smears, too.

Snyder was the first patient to receive a free Pap smear cancer detection test through the center recently. Results were negative.

Discount Tire doesn’t want to release the amount of its donation, which came after Susan Wolff, HealthReach’s director of development and communications, met the wives of two Discount Tire executives and gave them a tour of the clinic.

Wolff said the center’s biggest need is for local OB-GYNs to donate follow-up services with women after their Pap smears.

Other groups are already pitching in at the new center. Greensboro Pathology is donating the cost of the Pap smear reports. Statesville-based Iredell Memorial Hospital is doing free mammograms. Quilters Loft Co. in downtown Mooresville crafted nine hospital gowns decorated with the images of butterflies for women’s center patients.

And Monica Galea, of Weight Watchers in the Charlotte area, is mapping out free weight loss programs for the center’s clients.

“I saw three this morning,” Galea announced at Friday’s noon event.

“It’s become a community effort, truly,” Wolff said.

Marusak: 704-358-5067; Twitter: @jmarusak
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