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Free Clinic At Ada Jenkins Center In Davidson Shuts Down, Refers Patients To Huntersville

030521 Ada Jenkins Center.jpg
David Boraks
Ada Jenkins Center is a regional social services hub in Davidson. The center announced it's closing down its weekly free medical clinic.

The Ada Jenkins Center in Davidson is shutting down its 18-year-old weekly free medical clinic and is now referring patients to a free clinic in Huntersville that operates five days a week.

The Free Clinic of Our Towns was founded in 2003 at Ada Jenkins, a regional social services center in a former African American school on Davidson's west side. Until last year, the clinic was open every Thursday, serving low-income residents from around the Lake Norman area.

After the pandemic hit, the volunteer doctors shifted to telemedicine. Now, it's formally shutting its doors.

Ada Jenkins Center
Harold Rice, CEO of the Ada Jenkins Center in Davidson

Ada Jenkins CEO Harold Rice, who took over leadership of the center last summer, said the move comes amid a decline in grants and donations to the clinic and a refocusing of the center's priorities.

"Our mission changed maybe a year or so ago that really focuses on economic mobility and stability," Rice told WFAE. "One could argue that without good health you can't earn anything, which is true. But it doesn't necessarily mean we have to be the quarterback of the medical piece."

Officials have notified 340 patients who used the clinic in the past couple of years that they can now go to Lake Norman Community Health Clinic in Huntersville. That clinic has been around since 1998 and has a paid staff and more capabilities, such as specialists and laboratory services.

"I think they will get much richer service, much more efficient service with Lake Norman because that's what they do every day," Rice said.

Rice says Ada Jenkins Center will continue to provide case management and other social services to those patients.

April Cook, executive director of Lake Norman Community Health Clinic, described the arrangement as a partnership.

“Ada Jenkins has (been), and continues to be, an incredible organization serving those most in need in our community," Cook said in a press release. "The environment today is pushing nonprofits to streamline their missions and to capitalize on existing services through partnerships... By not duplicating services, we are able to work together to touch more lives in a more efficient manner."

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David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.