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August 20, 2009

Merce Clinic making a difference in health care

ASHEBORO — Now, more than ever, Merce Clinic is making a difference.

A federally-qualified community health center since 2007, providing medical and dental care for the uninsured, Merce celebrated National Community Health Center Week last Thursday at The Exchange in Asheboro.

On hand were Merce staff and board members, patients and an official with the N.C. Community Health Center Association.

Hazel Boyd, CEO of Merce, said she was “grateful for a very committed staff. And we have a board of directors who understand and see the big picture.”

Boyd announced that Merce will receive federal stimulus money.

She said $174,000 will be available to expand the dental clinic, $395,000 for a larger medical clinic and another $28,000 to serve the uninsured.

To the patients present, Boyd said, “You’re the reason we’re here. We’re so glad to be able to serve you and make your medical and dental life so much better.”

Boyd introduced Rosa Navarro, training and technical assistant for the state association.

Navarro said the association represents the state’s 28 federally-qualified community health centers. Merce is the only one so qualified in the Piedmont Triad Region.

North Carolina currently has 1.7 million people without health insurance, she said, making the state No. 1 in the nation in that category. Community health centers are important for providing care to those people.

“I commend your staff for your efforts to expand your coverage to the Latino community,” she said of the ethnic group that’s increased by 1,000 percent since the 2000 census.

She said serving Latinos presented the challenges of the language barrier, lack of insurance and transportation issues.

“Merce is doing a wonderful thing” by taking on those challenges, said Navarro. “Merce is serving over 4,000 patients and serving very needy patients. I wish you all the best in future years.”

Linda Jester, a Merce patient, said, “I love everybody that works there. You’re fantastic people. You get a lot of hugs from me.”

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