Clay’s only free medical clinic in need

Kile Brewer
Posted 9/27/17

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Jeannie Gallina has temporarily come out of retirement.

Gallina, the founder of the Way Free Medical Clinic in Green Cove Springs, felt the move was necessary after the …

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Clay’s only free medical clinic in need

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Jeannie Gallina has temporarily come out of retirement.

Gallina, the founder of the Way Free Medical Clinic in Green Cove Springs, felt the move was necessary after the clinic recently came into some difficult times.

“I’m here to provide stability and to keep things organized,” Gallina said. “We’re here for the people, and that is what’s really important. That is where our focus needs to be.”

Since starting the organization in 2006, Gallina has watched the clinic grow into a place where people who are uninsured or cannot afford typical medical care can feel comfortable stopping in for a checkup. She also said that through their prenatal care and work with pregnant women, which began two years into the clinic’s existence, they have had a hand in bringing about 500 newborns into the world.

Eventually, the clinic doubled its space by moving into its current county-owned facility where rent is $1 a year. With the growth of the organization, the clinic found it was in need of leadership, so, they created an executive director position.

Until that point, Gallina had run things to be calm and casual, providing a smiling face and free medical care to anyone who needed it. Under new leadership, and with a board in place, things started to change and the clinic started becoming more of a business.

“Now we are in an age where the clinic has to grow up,” Gallina said. “That means developing new business practices to help sustain it. It needs change and [an Executive Director] who can build a strong board that we can depend on to work with our folks.”

Gallina’s return came after the clinic lost both their executive director and medical director within a short period of time. This left a huge hole in the leadership, and created the need for a restructuring of the organization to make way for progress and change going into the future of the business.

“The staff we have now are ready for a new executive director,” Gallina said. “They are prepared for changes.”

Gallina said that during the restructuring, there was a time when they almost had to close the doors. For her, this would be a worst-case scenario, forcing their patients to turn to emergency rooms for care, or going back to avoiding doctors altogether. Luckily, the clinic survived the downturn, but they are still seeking additional help as they continue to regroup.

“We are appealing to the community to reach out and help rebuild through volunteering and monetary donations,” Gallina said. “A lot of people don’t know about us because they don’t need us. We want to change that.”

In an effort to get its name in front of community members, not just those who are patients, they are beginning to actively seek fundraising opportunities. On Oct. 7, the clinic will host a community-wide yard sale, and will take any and all donations through Oct. 5 when they begin setting up the sale. They have also partnered with Emerald Dragon Games, a Fleming Island-based gaming store, for their upcoming charity video game tournament on Oct. 14, which features classic shooter games like Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts and Nintendo’s Duck Hunt, with proceeds being spread among four local charities.

The clinic is also in need of volunteers of all types, specifically those who are doctors or nurses who would be willing to provide part time help as they continue to stabilize their operation and come under new leadership.

Gallina is working hard to leave the clinic in a place that will keep it operational for years to come before heading back into retirement. She describes the clinic as one of her children, and would like to see the people in Green Cove Springs and the rest of the county seeking out medical care regardless of insurance or income.

“I see great things in our future [at the clinic],” Gallina said. “It’s been around for 11 years, and I hope it last another 11 years.”

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