Free Clinic Upgrades with No-Cost Laboratory

Article from The Franklin News Post: by Leigh Prom

Patient care at the Free Clinic of Franklin County has become even better thanks to the addition of a Point of Care Laboratory courtesy of BD (Becton Dickinson), a global medical technology company.

Free Clinic Medical Director Dr. Tiffany Powell said that having an on-site lab will “save a lot of time and improve patient care.” Before the lab’s installation last week, very little lab work could be done at the clinic.


Clinical Lab Scientists
Cynthia Kelley and Judy Hastert, clinical labortory scientists from Heart to Heart International, install an on-site laboratory at the Free Clinic of Franklin County at the Bernard Healthcare Center in Rocky Mount, Virgina.

The equipment is set up to provide five different clinical in-house lab tests. They are Influenza A and B, lipid profiles, automated urinalysis, metabolic blood profile and hemoglobin A1C monitoring for diabetes.

According to Business Manager Ellen Holland, the new lab will save a lot of time and money, as last year 833 different patients’ lab work had to be sent out at a cost of $82,000.

Donna Proctor, executive director of the clinic, gave a little history on the grant that made the lab possible.

“Heart to Heart International partnered with the National Association of Free Clinics and BD to put out a Request For Proposal to free clinics nationwide for three free Point of Service Laboratories to enhance their patient care,” she said. “We submitted a grant proposal and were lucky enough to make the first cut. Then the Heart to Heart representatives came out and did a site visit. From there, they narrowed down their choices to three clinics — one in North Carolina, one in Wyoming and us. The grant will provide us the equipment and supplies we need to do most of the lab testing we require in-house. Plus it will provide for the training of staff and volunteers. We’re so thrilled.”

Proctor submitted her grant proposal last fall. A site visit was made in March. In April the grant was awarded. The lab equipment, training and first year of supplies are valued at $40,000.

Last week, clinical laboratory scientists Judy Hastert and Cynthia Kelley from Heart to Heart International were in Rocky Mount to install the lab. They also trained the four staff members, four volunteers and four college/technical college students who work there.

“There were a couple of glitches, but with the help from the community (a couple of doctors and the hospital), we managed,” Proctor said.

When contacted this week while she was setting up the lab for Free Clinic in Laramie, Wyoming, Hastert called her trip to Rocky Mount a “great experience.” She added, “I feel like the key people have been well trained to train the trainees.”


Medical Director Tiffany Powell (right) issues a test for color blindness to Free Clinic Business Manager Ellen Holland. Being color blind would be a problem for reading dip stick laboratory results, and none of the 12 trainees for the lab tested positive for that condition

She also said that “Proctor is excited and raring to go” and that she was especially pleased to see a student trained who already has a background in labs. Another trainee has been the person on the team designated to oversee inventory and track which supplies will be needed.

Proctor said that “the Heart to Heart scientists are wonderful. They do this work all around the world and are knowledgeable, dedicated, helpful and encouraging. It was great having their expertise to install the equipment and provide training on its use.”

Cindy Shively, a nurse practitioner for the clinic, said, “With the patients not having to leave the building for lab work, I can have much more focused conversations about their treatment and plan of care which can prevent the need for dialysis.”

In October, Proctor will give a presentation at the National Association of Free Clinics’ convention in Denver about the clinic’s grant for an on-site laboratory.

Click here to learn more about Heart to Heart International’s Laboratory Program.