Aldermen Tyler Brock and Tammy McCool, Mayor Mitch Wiggins, nurse practitioners Amanda Fondren and Jordan Hudson and Alderman Matt Furnari toss shovels of dirt during the groundbreaking ceremony of the new clinic in Caledonia Wednesday morning. Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff
November 2, 2017 10:11:07 AM
If anyone saw the need for the Caledonia Community Clinic, it was Blair Thompson.
The Caledonia businesswoman owns and operates Caledonia Pharmacy on Main Street, the town's only pharmacy. After Dr. Ray Beezley closed his medical clinic on Wolfe Road six months ago, Caledonia residents had nowhere to go but Thompson's pharmacy.
"We hit panic mode when Dr. Beezley closed his office," Thompson said Wednesday at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new clinic. "Our patients had nobody to provide blood-pressure medicine or cholesterol medicine. There are a lot of people here that just don't leave Caledonia. So when Dr. Beezley left, they just did without. When they started showing up at the pharmacy with extremely elevated blood pressure, all I could do for them was call an ambulance. I realized pretty quick that we needed a clinic to help these people."
Six months later, Caledonia Mayor Mitch Wiggins and aldermen Tammy McCool, Tyler Brock and Matt Furnari joined nurse practitioners Jordan Hudson and Amanda Fondren to break ground on the new Caledonia Community Clinic, which is expected to open in January.
The new clinic will be located next to the town's community center on a two-third parcel the city sold to Hudson and Fondren, who will be owner/operators and, at least for a time, the only staffers.
It was Thompson who brought Hudson and Fondren together. Even before Beezley closed his clinic, both Hudson and Fondren had separate dreams of opening their own clinics. Both had worked in Beezley's clinic, but at different times and did not know each other.
"I knew both of them from when they worked for Dr. Beezley," Thompson said. "I knew that Amanda wanted to open her own clinic and I also knew that Jordan wanted to come back to Caledonia. She's a hometown girl. I thought they would be good partners, so I put them together and crossed my fingers."
Fondren said it was clear she and Hudson had a similar vision.
"Both of us had a goal, a dream to put together a clinic in Caledonia that could serve the entire the community and suit their needs," Fondren said. "We want it to be a place where people could feel comfortable coming and being taken care of."
Hudson said the plan is to start slowly and build the practice as the need emerges.
"Right now, it's just going to be me and Amanda," she said. "At some point, we will definitely add a receptionist and we have room for X-ray, but right now, we're going to start with just the two of us."
Based on the demand for her own services, Thompson is certain the clinic will be a success.
"The Caledonia area is growing so fast," she said. "There is no reason we should be filling as many prescriptions as we do now, just based on population. But aside from that, there are 3,000 kids in school in Caledonia. That's a lot of runny noses, strep throat and flu. They're going to do well. I don't have any doubt about that."
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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