Groundbreaking for The Free Clinic of Franklin County



The Free Clinic of Franklin County held a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday, October 29, to begin construction of a new 7,100 square foot medical office building at the Schewels Plaza shopping center in Rocky Mount.  The project was made possible by a

$1 million gift from the late philanthropist Guy Beatty and his wife, Betty, of Northern Virginia, and the donation of the clinic site by

Marc Schewel of Schewels Furniture in Lynchburg, Virginia.  The ceremony was attended by representatives from the Town of Rocky Mount, Franklin County, Ferrum College, United Way, Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital, Mod-U-Kraf, and F&S Building Innovations, along with local citizens. 

The Beattys’ deep faith and desire to share their numerous blessings has prompted them to build clinics around the world to provide access to quality health care.   Mr. Beatty’s interest in Franklin County stemmed from his family ties to this area dating back to the Continental Congress and his long-time friendship with Jennifer Braaten, president of Ferrum College. 

Dr. Braaten has fond memories of Mr. Beatty, who died earlier this month.  “When I think of the Ferrum College motto, ‘Not Self, But Others,’ Guy and Betty Beatty immediately come to mind,” Braaten said.   “Over the past few years I had many conversations with Guy regarding the Beattys’ desire to do something meaningful for the citizens of Franklin County to expand health care services for local low-income residents.  Today we see the culmination of that wish through their extremely generous gift to enable the construction of this new building to help expand the county’s Free Clinic.”

The Clinic’s general contractor, F&S Building Innovations of Roanoke, has begun preparing the site.  Mod-U-Kraf of Rocky Mount is constructing the modular units which will include eight exam rooms.  The facility is expected to open as early as January.  By mid-2014, the Clinic plans to become a Rural Health Clinic under the name Bernard Healthcare Center, named after co-founder Jeanne Bernard who opened the private non-profit clinic in 1992. 

Three years ago, the Clinic obtained a VHCF grant to hire a full-time mid-level provider, increasing the number of patient visits from 800/year to over 2,200/year.  The rural health expansion will allow the Clinic to see Medicaid and Medicare patients, and eventually accept private insurance.  The free clinic program will remain intact for very low-income uninsured people would do not qualify for insurance under health care reform.  With additional space in the new building, the center could accommodate over 5,000 patient visits each year. 

The Free Clinic receives no Federal funds.  Through partnerships with the Virginia Association of Free & Charitable Clinics, Rx Partnership Foundation, Virginia Health Care Foundation, United Way, and Carilion, as well as the generosity of private donors, the Free Clinic is able to offer quality health care at a sharply reduced cost.

“Our Clinic relies heavily on volunteer physicians and community donations to provide health care and medications to the needy in Franklin County.  Fund-raising will continue to be a priority next year,” said Alise Culbertson, executive director of the Clinic.  “In addition to acute care, the Clinic strives to consistently treat chronic illnesses, screen to prevent disease, and encourage healthy lifestyles to create a better community.”