Local News

February 16, 2013

Free clinic looks to expand

The doors to the DEO Clinic don’t officially open until 5 p.m., but at 4:45 patients already fill the small waiting room.

“I am very sick today, and I don’t have insurance. Up until 2006, I had insurance, and I was working two jobs,” said Dalton resident Pamela Parker. “But the jobs aren’t out there, especially if you are my age (53). Dalton has been hit hard, and there are a lot of people in the same place I am. I am so glad this place is here. I’ve been here a few times, and the people who work here are so great.”

The clinic sees patients two nights a week, Monday and Thursday. All the staff, including doctors and nurses, volunteer their time and effort. The clinic offers all its services at no charge.

Currently located at 411 Central Ave. in Dalton, the clinic started seven years ago in donated space at the Upper Room Mission as a medical outreach effort of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.

“Henry Harrison, who was the assistant to the rector, and I hatched the idea,” said Dr. Rodovaldo “Rod” Rodriguez, a Dalton surgeon. “I’ve always had a passion for serving those who are underserved, and I’d wanted to create a free clinic.”

Rodriguez said the clinic was initially aimed at Dalton’s homeless.

“When we started, we were managing acute illnesses. Respiratory infections, foot problems. And we were doing a lot of social work, helping people find food and housing,” Rodriguez said.

But over time the clinic’s focus shifted as the number of Dalton residents without health insurance grew.

“We are seeing mostly new people who have lost their jobs and don’t have insurance or are working at jobs that don’t provide insurance, and so we are finding ourselves helping them manage chronic illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure and heart disease,” Rodriguez said. “Many of these people are struggling to keep food on the table and pay rent. They let their health go until something really bad happens. They end up in the emergency room, and they get treatment and get better for a time, then it starts all over. We are trying to help them break that cycle. That improves their health, and it also keeps them out of the emergency room.”

When the clinic started Rodriguez was its only physician, but now it has several, so they take turns working each week.

As the clinic grew, it moved several times seeking more space. It has been in its current location about a month. It has also filed for 501(c) status and is looking to expand its board to increase its ability to raise funds and expand services.

Anne Blaylock, one of the clinic’s managers, says expanding services is important.

“Right now, we have to limit ourselves to about 10 to 12 patients each night. Sometimes we have a doctor and a nurse assistant or a doctor and a physician assistant and we see more people,” she said. “We’d like to expand the days we are open, and open during the daytime  one day a week because we know some people can’t get here at night.”

In addition to providing medical care, the clinic is sometimes able to help patients obtain medications.

“We have a social worker who is usually here and can help people find out if they are eligible for different programs,” Rodriguez said.

Text Only
Local News
  • Man charged for using fraudulent Social Security card

    A man is being held in the Whitfield County Jail on multiple charges for using a fraudulent Social Security card with someone else’s Social Security number to land a job at a rug manufacturer in Dalton and for providing false information to receive workers’ compensation benefits, according to the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation’s Enforcement Division.

    April 23, 2014

  • Standoff 1 mlh.jpg Police: Four-hour standoff ends with peaceful surrender

    A man who was armed with at least one firearm and believed to be under the influence of alcohol surrendered to police Tuesday night after barricading himself for four hours inside a carpet mill in downtown Dalton, officials said.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Murray deputy bit by drug dog while taking selfie

    A Murray County Sheriff’s Office deputy is recovering after one of the department’s drug dogs bit him in the face on Monday.

    April 23, 2014

  • Local wrestler ‘made everybody smile’

    Rash Renegade got his wrestling nickname after a motorcycle wreck several years ago left him with a bad case of road burn.

    April 23, 2014

  • Pinwheels in murray '14 1 mlh.jpg Awareness can prevent child abuse

    Three hundred forty-six pinwheels dotted the Murray County Courthouse lawn on Tuesday, representing 346 reported cases of child abuse in the county last year.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Murray library, regional system still far apart

    Murray County officials say they will announce soon if they will follow through with their plan to take the Chatsworth-Murray Library out of the Northwest Georgia Regional Library System.

    April 22, 2014

  • Fire believed to have started outside home

    Investigators are still working to learn what sparked a fire that nearly destroyed a house at 602 Top St. in Dalton on Monday.

    April 22, 2014

  • Murray deputy bit by drug dog while taking selfie

    A Murray County Sheriff’s Office deputy is recovering after one of the department’s drug dogs bit him in the face on Monday.

    April 22, 2014

  • gov deal in dalton1.jpg State faces skilled worker gap

    Clay Cooper says HON is producing as many retirees as the company is office chairs.

    April 21, 2014 3 Photos

  • house fire on tops st1.jpg House fire under investigation

    Investigators are trying to determine what caused a house fire on Top Street in Dalton Monday that at least temporarily put a family of four out of their home.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo