Hannibal Courier-Post

Hannibal Free Clinic faces needs due to pandemic disruptions

Employees of the Hannibal Free Clinic, shown from left, are Linda Chou, Starla Dunn, Haley Hurst and Sharon Webster. Capes worn by the women highlight the “Be a Hero” theme for the UnitedWay's 2020 fundraising campaign.
PHOTO/KAMEY TYLER
KAMEY TYLER
Special for The Courier-Post
Posted: Sep. 11, 2020 11:15 am

HANNIBAL | Normally volunteers and staff members at the Hannibal Free Clinic are gearing up for the organization's annual Rib & Wing Fest, however this event was canceled due to group gathering restrictions due to the coronavirus.

So the annual event will not be happening this weekend. And that will leave the Hannibal Free Clinic with a problem.

The Rib & Wing Fest typically raises $30,000 or 32% of the organization's annual budget. In addition to this event, the organization's spring fundraiser also was canceled. That event normally raises around $15,000 or 16% of the yearly budget. That is nearly half of the clinic's annual budget wiped out due indirectly to COVID-19.

Sharon Webster, director of the clinic said it is critical that the money be replaced.

The Hannibal Free Clinic serves nearly 450 individuals each year in Northeast Missouri. The organization provides health care services to people without insurance. The clinic does this with the help of volunteers and various community partners such as the United Way.

The work and service provided by the Hannibal Free Clinic is important to keep residents without health care in the Hannibal community safe and healthy. Doctors and nurses who provide care at the clinic are all local volunteers. One volunteer, Priscilla Long, M.D. volunteers one day a month at the clinic, seeing patients.

“Uncontrolled high blood pressure, diabetes, severe depression and bad heart disease kills people all the time. So I do feel that what we do is life-saving” Long said.

Without the Hannibal Free Clinic, the patients Long sees there would not have regular medical care.

The work of the Hannibal Free Clinic is perhaps more crucial now than ever before. The organization has seen a 240% increase in the number of people requesting services since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March. This showcases the overall impact the organization makes and the importance of the support it receives.

“The funds we raise in 2020 will be used to keep our program running in 2021. We have been extremely frugal in making any purchases. However this current situation, along with the limitations for future fundraising activities, is of grave concern for the HFC Board,” Webster said.

The Hannibal Free Clinic did receive $7,500 from the United Way's COVID-19 Response Fund. In addition, the organization will benefit from the 2020-21 United Way BE A HERO Campaign. The more dollars United Way raises in the community, the more dollars this organization and others will receive.

Individuals and groups are encouraged to give to the BE A HERO Campaign at https://unitedwaymta.org or mail a payment to PO Box 81 Hannibal, Mo. 63401.