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‘There was nothing else that I could do’

Clinic, a new United Way partner, helps woman at just the right time

‘There was nothing else that I could do’

‘There was nothing else that I could do’


As Christmas neared last year, Joyce Wilson-Lanier could think of only one wish for the holiday season. She wanted the pain to go away.
Wilson-Lanier, 48, knew something was amiss with her health but, out-of-work and without insurance, had no way to find out the cause of her trouble.
So, she turned to the only place she knew she could: Statesboro’s Hearts and Hands Clinic.
“I lost insurance benefits when I lost my job in 2004, found out about Hearts and Hands, and began going there to receive the health-related help that I needed,” Wilson-Lanier said. “The clinic became instrumental to me last Christmas when I became very sick, from what turned out to be my gall bladder. I called officials with Hearts and Hands and told them that I could not take the pain any longer, but had no money to have tests done — that would qualify me for emergency surgery — and there was nothing else that I could do.”
So, the local nonprofit stepped in.
“I came into Hearts and Hands and visited with a doctor, who some kind of way, had the tests ordered. It was determined that I needed my gall bladder removed,” she said. “The organization was able to find a grant and have me travel to Metter to have the bladder removed in January. If not for Hearts and Hands, the bladder would have exploded inside of me.”
United Way of Southeast Georgia recently kicked off its 2013-14 fundraising campaign, and announced that Hearts and Hands Community Clinic would be a beneficiary.
Opened in 2010, Hearts and Hands offers free health treatment to Bulloch County residents that have no other health insurance and a family income that is 200 percent or less of the federal poverty level. The clinic relies entirely on private donations— by individuals, businesses and foundations — and is led and operated primarily by community volunteers.
The organization provides medical, dental and vision services, as well as women’s health services and gastroenterology work.
“When people lose a job, and lose their insurance, there is not much out there for them – in terms of options. The Hearts and Hands clinic has been instrumental in my life,” said Wilson-Lanier, who has also received dental treatment and blood pressure medication thanks to the nonprofit. “These people care. These people are people who will help you get where you need in terms of health care. I am very grateful to them.”
She is not alone in her appreciation.
According to Jordan Wilburn, the director of operations for Hearts and Hands, the clinic provides treatment to more than 400 local residents — nearly 1,000 total medical visits — each with their own unique story.
Now, United Way of Southeast Georgia has taken notice, and patients have even more reason to be thankful.
“Support from United Way has allowed Hearts and Hands to grow, caring for more patients and meeting greater needs for those with untreated diabetes, hypertension and a host of other chronic illnesses,” Wilburn said. “Specifically, United Way funding has allowed our patients to receive critical medical care in ways that would not have otherwise been possible.”
United Way hosts its yearly campaign — contributions are also accepted year-round — to raise funds that support numerous community service organizations in Bulloch County and the surrounding region.
“United Way gives funding to agencies and organizations that provide our community with programs and services that assist people with critical needs and help improve their overall quality of life. These programs inspire hope, encourage others, and change the lives of the individuals and families that they work with,” said Bob Olliff, the executive director of United Way of Southeast Georgia. “Whether you believe it or not, one person can make a difference — whether it is $1 a week, $5 a week or, possibly, $10 a week, those gifts make a difference. The strength of one person supporting an organization such as United Way can have a tremendous impact on the life of a person or family, especially when that person is joined by others that choose to do the same.”

Jeff Harrison may be reached at (912) 489-9454.

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