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The heart behind the hands
w013015 LS ANDREWS 02
New Heart & Hands Clinic Director Urkovia Andrews helps keep everything in order during operations Friday.

Upcoming Clinic Events
    The Hearts & Hands Clinic is raffling a Phillips 39-inch Smart LED television. All of the proceeds benefit the clinic. Tickets, which are $5 each or five for $20, go on sale beginning Monday and can be purchased at the clinic.
    On Friday, Feb. 13, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 pm, the clinic, located at 127 N. College St., will host a Women’s Health Workshop that is open to the public and will focus on breast health. A tour of the clinic is included during the workshop and light refreshments will be served. If desired, uninsured Bulloch County residents can complete an application for a free mammogram during the workshop.
    The winning raffle ticket for the TV will be drawn during the workshop, but the ticketholder does not have to be present to win.

    As director of The Hearts & Hands Clinic, Urkovia Andrews is the face of Statesboro’s only free health care clinic for the medically uninsured.
    But the humble and compassionate leader is quick to credit the many faces of her loyal volunteers for the daily operations of the clinic.
Raised in Aiken, South Carolina, Andrews found her way to Statesboro as a college student. Two degrees later and a third one in progress, she’s still here.
    “As a child, there were two fields of interest to me,” said Andrews. “Journalism — I enjoy watching the news — and health. I thought I would be a journalist but soon realized they work holidays and I couldn't be a TV news reporter because I don't wear makeup.
    “My other passion was health,” she continued. “Growing up, I would go with my mom to her physical therapy appointments for her knee. Once old enough, I became a candy striper and, while in high school, I got to spend a year working with the athletic trainer. My aunt would always tell me as I was deciding on a career path that I should look into health because, in her words, ‘People are always being born and people are always dying.’ ”
    Andrews said she began her time at Georgia Southern thinking she would go into physical therapy, but quickly realized that wasn’t for her. After taking a course in public speaking, she changed her major to public relations.
    But another class, Health Communications, revealed her passion.
    “Since then, I have used my public relations skills with various health entities,” Andrews said.

A history of healthy interest
    Andrews has a bachelor’s degree in public relations, a master’s in public health with an emphasis in community, and she is in the dissertation phase of her doctorate in public health.
    Just prior to taking the helm as Hearts & Hands Clinic director, Andrews worked in the university’s Communication Arts Department, teaching public relations and public speaking. Teaching college students is a popular subject in her home, as Andrews’ husband, Da’Mon Andrews, is employed by East Georgia State College and teaches math. The couple has two children, a 5-year-old daughter and a 1-year-old son.
    “I’ve always been interested in health communications,” said Urkovia Andrews.
    Andrews worked with Magnolia Coastlands Area Health Education Center, freelanced with Amerigroup and worked with a flu campaign before joining the staff of Georgia Southern. 
    “I knew at some point I wanted to go back into a health organization,” she said. “When this position became available a second time, I knew it was an ideal fit. This position allows me to use my background in public relations and public health to serve our community.”
    Andrews came on board as director in July and has moved full-steam ahead ever since.

Helping hands in the community
    The Hearts & Hands Clinic's mission is “to provide access to primary health care to uninsured Bulloch County adult residents who live at 200 percent or below the poverty guidelines,” offering no-cost medical, vision, dental, women’s and mammography services to community residents who fall into the category above.
    Patients of the Hearts & Hands Clinic currently do not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid services.
    This is the clinic’s fifth year of serving patients and attempting to fulfill its purpose, as stated on the website: “Our purpose is not to enable, but to serve the community by providing support for individuals as they seek ways to better themselves. Together, we take our hearts and use our hands to inspire by giving hope.
    “The people we serve come from all walks of life. Some are now uninsured due to job loss, divorce, a previous jail
conviction making them ineligible for health services, a serious health issue and so on.”
    Andrews said: “Each day we have patients obtain health services they would not have otherwise received. It is because of the medical community in Bulloch County we are able to do these things. It is a great feeling to be a part of (it).”
    Andrews sings the praises of the many volunteers who help in the clinic, from the medical personnel to community and student volunteers to those that provide help financially.
    “We’re volunteer based; we are limited with what we can do. We focus mostly on chronic illness,” she said. “If it’s something we can’t handle, we give them resources elsewhere. We’re not trying to duplicate what’s done currently in other places, like the Health Department.”
    The clinic is staffed by volunteer doctors, dentists, nurse practitioners and coordinators and offers appointments, not walk-in services.
    Andrews points out that as the director, she is the only paid staff individual and only person consistently in the clinic five days a week. “Everyone else is a volunteer, but we couldn’t do it without them.”
    In fact, more community volunteers is on Andrews’ wish list for the clinic. She said her top-two wishes are a digital camera for dental services and a family nurse practitioner. Also on her list are old prescription glasses with frames intact, a two-drawer filing cabinet, office supplies, 9-ounce or larger drinking cups and various technology items. Needed items can be dropped off at the clinic.
    Andrews said she wants the community to “not only know we’re here, but know there are other ways to help beyond financial. Items on the wish list, volunteers. If you can write a grant; retirees that want something to do.”
    With a smile she added, “Prayers are just as helpful. We’ll take that too.”

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