MONROE— Community Health Services of Union County has been caring for its medically-underserved neighbors, including Anson County, for 25 years, helping them battle diabetes and related complications. Beginning this summer, the nonprofit will expand its free clinic services with the addition of a full-time physician assistant provided by Wingate University’s William and Loretta Harris Department of PA Studies.
Wingate President Rhett Brown announced the partnership May 24 at Community Health Services of Union County’s annual fundraising breakfast at Rolling Hills Country Club in Monroe. He said having a PA on staff would allow the organization to give patients more comprehensive care, and at the same time offer increased clinical opportunities to Wingate University students by creating a “laboratory of difference-making.”
In addition to PA and doctor of pharmacy, Wingate offers a doctor of physical therapy program and bachelor’s degrees in nursing and exercise science. Already, faculty and students are heavily involved with Community Health Services of Union County. In the past year, 45 people associated with the university volunteered or interned at the clinic. Beginning next month, nine pharmacy interns per week will be working at the Sunset Drive medical facility.
“Once the PA is on board, we’ll be hosting PA students on their community health clinical rotation, in addition to nursing students,” Norris Pierce, Community’s project manager, explained. “We estimate more than doubling the number of student interns — with a conservative estimate of 100, depending on the date the PA begins.”
The growing connections are, in part, the work of Dr. Roy Blank, the medical director of Wingate’s PA program and Community’s “free clinic godfather.”
Blank called the joint venture a “huge step” in the life of the clinic and summed it up like this: “Keep an eye on us, because we are ready to take off.”