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A Holiday Thanks To Our Clinic Leadership For A Year Of Amazing Progress

April Cook

Thank you for what each of you do daily serving the most vulnerable in our state.

Thank you for carrying the stress and worry of whether there is enough money every month to cover salaries for staff and dollars to cover medical supplies and overhead.

Thank you for being a leader and for helping us tell our collective story and for your willingness to partner with like-minded individuals and organizations to change the trajectory of a family in your practice.

Thank you for the patience that you exude when report deadlines pile up on your desk, 20 emails need a response by the end of the day and oh, the air conditioner on the dental bus just went out AGAIN and it’s the middle of July. I get it! Each of you is a miracle worker in your own right!

A special thanks to those of you who have served as regional leaders and those who recently served on committees for the outcomes survey and the needs assessment survey. Even with your plates full, you took time to assist our organization in setting our priorities as well as producing a survey that helps us collect the data that confirms the value of the work we do.

Lastly, thank you for your willingness to collaborate with each other in your regions. Even though you each have compelling stories and accomplishments, together we have become an incredible system that is unified in improving healthy outcomes and access to health care for the uninsured in North Carolina.

Hoping you all have a wonderful and restful holiday season!

With great appreciation,
April Cook
Chief Executive Officer

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Sugar Check Charity’s Founder Fueled By A Passion For Making A Difference

If you’re looking for a little hope and inspiration this holiday season, consider the story of Bill Rierson, founder of Sugar Check Charity in Mount Airy.

Since its launch three years ago, Sugar Check Charity has donated $30,000 in diabetes testing supplies to 23 free and charitable clinics, including 20 in North Carolina. Donations this year alone will top $15,000.

Who knows what Bill will be able to accomplish next year, when he’ll finally be old enough to drive. Now just 15, he is guided by the simple but powerful idea that one person can make a difference – at any age.

Bill’s passion for helping people with diabetes was initially fueled by Coco, the family dog, who was diagnosed with diabetes when Bill was 9. A few years later, Bill was volunteering at Surry Medical Ministries – run by neighbor Nancy Dixon – and attending the clinic’s diabetes management classes.

He learned patients did not always have the supplies they needed to monitor their blood sugar levels. With his Christmas money and earnings from odd jobs, Bill bought some diabetes monitors and test strips at Walmart. He put them in a bag and took them over to Dixon’s house. It was his first donation.

Bill started Sugar Check Charity in 2019 with the help of his parents, Lee and Nancy Rierson, and the nonprofit gained its 501(c)(3) status in 2021, aided by free legal assistance from Faw, Folger & Johnson, PC. Storage System Solutions Inc. donated website development services.

Bill says he spends most of his time on social media, advertising, sponsorships and collaborations. One of Sugar Check Charity’s biggest sponsors is local apparel maker Renfro Brands, which donated 3,600 pairs of its Dr. Scholl’s diabetic and circulatory socks worth $9,000 after Bill wrote a letter to the CFO.

While the charity’s focus is on providing diabetic testing strips, monitors and lancets for free and charitable clinics, Bill helped secure a donation of nearly 300 reusable masks valued at $2,160 to Dixon’s clinic from Renfro Brands soon after the pandemic hit when masks were hard to come by.

Bill is involved with Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) and hopes to create opportunities for collaboration with free and charitable clinics, which could recruit HOSA members as volunteers and also benefit from students’ social media savvy to raise awareness of clinics and their mission.

Bill has also worked with students and staff at High Point University’s School of Pharmacy, who created and sold T-shirts and made informative videos about diabetes. The videos are posted on the charity’s website at www.sugarcheckcharity.org.

His efforts on behalf of Dixon’s clinic earned Bill volunteer of the year honors previously, but the Mount Airy High School sophomore isn’t resting on his laurels. Sugar Check Charity is already planning its 2023 Diabetes Awareness Month campaign and has its sights set on expanding the number of clinics it serves.

With high school graduation, college and career options still years away, Bill doesn’t know exactly where his passion for helping others will take him. But he seems confident Sugar Check Charity will be part of whatever he decides to do.

Says Bill: “I see this as a lifelong endeavor.”

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Nancy Dixon Named North Carolina’s 2022 Community Star For Contributions To Rural Health

Nancy Dixon, president of the board and executive director of Surry Medical Ministries Clinic in Mount Airy, has been named North Carolina’s 2022 Community Star by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) for her role in the clinic’s growth and success over the past decade.

The Community Star Recognition Program is designed to honor individuals across the country who are making a difference in rural health through collaboration, education, innovation and communication. NOSORH announced the awards Nov. 17 as part of the celebration of National Rural Health Day.

Since joining the board of the clinic in 2012, Nancy has overseen its expansion from a once-a-week acute care clinic to a full community health care clinic providing not only ongoing primary care but supporting medical and social services for the underserved in Surry County and surrounding communities.

Nancy was nominated for the award by Terri Mosley, a community volunteer with the clinic and a board member for one of its partner organizations, the Children’s Center of Northwest North Carolina. In her nomination, Mosley described Nancy as the “heart” of Surry Medical Ministries Clinic.

“Nancy has worked continuously and tirelessly and totally on a voluntary basis to allow Surry Medical Ministries to become a complete primary health care facility for individuals without insurance or the ability to pay,” Mosley wrote. “She has been instrumental in developing Surry Medical Ministries as a rural health care clinic which facilitates rural residents reaching their full health potential.”

The award caps a big year for Nancy and her staff. In August, the clinic nearly quadrupled its space when it moved out of the building where it had operated since opening in 1993 and into a 9,500-square-foot space just down the street. The clinic started seeing patients at its new location August 22.

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NCAFCC Set To Roll Out ‘Health Equity Framework’ To Members In January 2023

“NCAFCC Affirms health equity is the opportunity for all of us to attain full health potential.”
NCAFCC Health Equity Value Statement


The North Carolina Association of Free and Charitable Clinics will reach an important milestone on “Our Journey Toward Health Equity” in January 2023 with the rollout of our Health Equity Framework. This comprehensive, instructional and interactive platform is designed to help our members enhance access to health care and improve clinical practices to promote better health outcomes for all of their patients.

Finalized over the past several months under NCAFCC CEO April Cook’s leadership, the Health Equity Framework will include training by health equity experts and NCAFCC staff, an online library of continuous learning resources and, perhaps most significantly, actionable strategies to successfully embed health equity approaches into staff leadership, clinical operations, and patient care.

The Health Equity Framework will focus on four distinct areas or domains that will require active engagement by members as they consider changes needed to achieve true equity in delivering health care:

  • Domain One – Interpersonal Dynamics: Emphasizing the importance of culturally competent patient care
  • Domain Two – Organizational issues: Examining all facets of the clinical infrastructure to identify opportunities to implement equity-focused change
  • Domain Three – Community: Taking a deep dive into understanding the neighborhoods and social factors within the living environments impacting patients, and learning how to interact with local policymakers and community advocates committed to improvements
  • Domain Four – Data collection: Learning quantitative approaches to collecting health equity information about those the clinics serve.

As a 12-month platform, the Health Equity Framework’s four domains contain training modules that utilize in-person instruction, webinars, and onsite practicums for a truly engaging, overall learning experience. Each domain spans three months, concluding with a certificate of completion from NCAFCC indicating successful participation within all of the instructional domains within the Health Equity Framework.

From January through March 2023, the “Interpersonal Dynamics” domain will focus on the following five modules: (1) defining cultural competency, (2) culturally competent patient care, (3) clinical strategies for culturally competency integration, (4) cultural competency outcomes, and (5) cultural competency resources.

A unique feature of this instructional and interactive platform is that each NCAFCC member will designate at least three Health Equity Navigators to serve as their clinic’s lead attendees and ongoing participants – alternating as desired – throughout the 12-month training series. These Health Equity Navigators will be responsible for reporting key highlights back to their clinical colleagues, delivering training exercises, and providing follow-up feedback to the NCAFCC team.

Alice Mae is director of development and health equity for the NCAFCC. Reach her at alicemae@ncafcc.org.

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