"I believe folks deserve to be able to access health care."

There’s standing room only in the small waiting room at Southside United Health Center, a Winston-Salem neighborhood clinic that in two years has brought comprehensive family medical care to 1,500 uninsured men, women and children. Inside, Dr. Richard Lord, a family physician, guides a family medicine resident from Wake Forest University School of Medicine in treating a young mother. Julius Davis, a lifelong Southside resident and neighborhood leader, works his cell phone to find storage space for donated office equipment.

The power of inspired partnerships is making a difference in the Southside community, where the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) Foundation has invested in the health center. The Center has a goal of providing care to 3,000 patients and to move toward recognized status as a National Committee on Quality Assurance (NCQA) medical home.

Less than 10 miles from a world-class teaching hospital, Winston-Salem’s Southeast Ward felt even further from the possibility of world-class care. The area had no comprehensive medical practices just two years ago when Davis, Lord and eight other concerned residents gathered around folding tables with the staff of Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods to talk about how they could help make daily, quality medical care a reality for a diverse community of mostly working poor families.

The Southside United Health Center has been able to build trust and get the word out about its services. The nurses and other practice staff live in the community and their neighbors recognize them when they come to the clinic. A partnership with Wake Forest University School of Medicine brings family medicine residents to the clinic as part of their training, while Winston-Salem State University’s School of Health Sciences provides a nurse practitioner to expand coverage. A Federal Recovery Act Grant supported technology investments for computers, high-speed internet, video conferencing and electronic health records. And a partnership with Novant allows female clinic patients to have annual mammograms at no cost to them.

Southside United Health Center is neighbors looking out for neighbors, inspired to care for each other and work as partners to make a difference in their community.

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