POCATELLO, Idaho - Pocatello's Free Clinic has revamped many services in the past year, and Wednesday Free Clinic staff thanked one of the volunteer doctors who helped make the changes happen.
Free Clinic staff surprised Dr. Charles Clair and his wife Lisa with a small plaque as a token of thanks for the volunteer hours they have provided, and what they've done with those hours.
Dr. Clair has been volunteering at the Pocatello Free Clinic since he started his residency at Idaho State University.
"And once I graduated from there, I just felt it was a good thing to do and keep doing," said Dr. Clair, also a Hospitalist at Portneuf Medical Center. "My wife goes in with me, and she's done a lot of work revamping their website."
Free Clinic staff said their new website has helped with exposure and access for patients.
"We've also got a part time nurse practitioner," said Mindy Hong, Executive Director of the Free Clinic. "So if you call today, you should be able to get an appointment within two to three days."
The Clairs said they volunteer two to three days a month, but the clinic staff says those hours make a world of difference to the seven or eight patients they help when they're there.
"To me they exemplify what pure medicine is," said Garrett Gundry, a Medical Manager at the clinic. "It's the reason they got into medicine in the first place. They want to help somebody, not because they're expecting payment in return, but because they want to help somebody feel better."
Dr. Clair and Gundry joked back and forth about who the credit goes to for increasing patients helped from almost 1,000 in 2012 to 1,500 in 2013. The clinic staff is projecting to see 1,000 more patients this year than last year.
"The true credit should go to them," Dr. Clair said. "We just help out when we can as much as we can."
"We wouldn't be anything without our volunteer provider," Gundry said, "So I have to put it back on him."
The Free Clinic staff said you can be one of the people to volunteer your time and make a difference.
"We have needs for people with all different kinds of jobs," said Hong. She said anybody can help filing paperwork and making reminder phone calls to patients for appointments. She also said the clinic is looking to expand is dental service, and they are in need of dentists and hygienists. And the Clair family says the time is well worth it.
"I feel it's really nice to go in and actually help patients that don't have opportunities to been seen anywhere else because of financial reasons," Dr. Clair said. "You get some very grateful patients and you get to see some patients come back and you see improvements in their health. That makes it pretty rewarding for us."
If you are interested in finding out more about the Pocatello Free Clinic, you can go to their website, www.PocatelloFreeClinic.com.