Hope Community Medicine opened a clinic in Carthage on June 15 in Panola College’s W.C. Smith Building.
Hope Community Medicine offers a wide variety of medical services as well as behavioral health services at low costs. Payment is on a sliding scale, depending on income and family size, with insurance not required.
“It ranges between $20 is the lowest and $50 is the highest,” said Tracie Cain, COO of Hope Community Medicine. “So you can come and see the counselor for as little as $20 or the nurse practitioner for as little as $20. We also offer discounts on any labs that you need done, shots, EKGs, anything like that that you need done. And also, if you have private insurance, say if you have a large deductible, you can also apply for the sliding fee scale, and it will have reduced that deductible so that you don’t have as much out of pocket to pay.”
Hope Community Medicine is open to everyone, regardless of income. Cain said they want to make sure everybody knows they’re here to serve everyone and provide state-of-the-art care.
“Hope Community Medicine started as a mission,” she said. “We’re a faith-based organization, and we wanted to be here to help the patients that really need the help and to make healthcare affordable to everybody. I’ve been with Hope now for almost 15 years, and I started as a nurse, and you get to help patients here in a way that I’ve not been able to help patients at other places. It’s not about the money that you bring in, it’s about the help that you get to provide to the patients.”
The clinic is also providing testing for COVID-19, with nurses going out into the parking lot to test people and result turn around within two to three days. Testing is free for those with and without insurance, Cain said.
The clinic is taking precautions with regard to COVID-19 as well. All staff have personal protective equipment, and they are handing out masks to people when they come inside the clinic, Cain said. They are asking people to call beforehand in order to schedule appointments or ask any questions.
“When they come in the front doors, of course they have the sign to stop if you think you’re infected and to call, and it has our phone number posted there so that they don’t enter the building, and then once they come into our clinic inside the W.C Smith Building, we try to get them back into the room as soon as possible and not leave anybody in the lobby so that there’s not congregating in the lobby,” Cain said. “We space our schedule out so that we don’t have too many patients in the lobby at one time.”
Carthage is the latest of several locations Hope Community Medicine where has opened a clinic. They already have medical clinics in Center, Tenaha and San Augustine, a behavioral health center in Center, and a dental office in Tenaha.
“It’s an awesome extension to be able to have both of them (medical and behavioral health) in one building and to be able to offer those services, not only to the community but also to the students at Panola College and to be able to share those resources with everybody there,” Cain said. “Right now we have two counselors at that location and right now we’ve started with one nurse practitioner. Her name is Emily Dunn. She was born and raised there in Panola County, and as it grows we’re looking to add another nurse practitioner there.”
Dunn has more than three years of experience as a family nurse practitioner. She completed her master of science degree in nursing from the University of Texas at Tyler in August of 2016 and is certified through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. She received her associate degree in nursing from Kilgore College in 2004 and a bachelor of science degree in nursing from the University of Texas at Tyler in 2009. Before becoming a nurse practitioner, Dunn worked for more than 12 years as a registered nurse at a hospital in Longview, specializing in hematology/oncology.
Cain said the Hope clinic gives one-on-one attention and goes above and beyond. They try to make sure they provide all the services a client would need.
“So whether it’s making sure that they’re able to afford coming to the doctor, we’re also there to make sure that they’re able to afford paying their medications,” she said. “We have a 340-B program that makes medications more affordable for the patient when they go to the pharmacy, and so they get a very very significant discount for their medications, and that’s for all patients that come to Hope.
“We also have a fund that is set up to assist patients that are not able to afford to get the additional specialty tests done that are outside of Hope to help them get those tests done, or if they’re needing to see a specialist, maybe for things that are outside of something that we can help take care of, and so we tried to make sure that we cover all bases, from the medical standpoint to the mental health standpoint, if there’s services that they need at home,” she said. “It’s just an all over taking care of the entire patient.”
The clinic in Carthage is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday They are located in Panola College’s W.C Smith Building, 820 W. Panola St. in Carthage, and can be reached by phone at (903) 690-8395.
Early voting began Monday at the Panola County Elections Office in the July 14 primary runoffs.
Few local races are on the runoff ballot for the election that Gov. Greg Abbott delayed from May to July after the coronavirus pandemic hit the state.
Voters participating in the Democratic primary will decide the outcome in two statewide races. Most notably, state Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, is facing decorated Air Force veteran MJ Hegar in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat. The winner will face U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, in November. The other statewide Democratic primary runoff is between Roberto R. “Beto” Alonzo and Chrysta Castaneda for a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission, a regulatory agency that oversees the oil and natural gas industry. The winner will face Republican Jim Wright, who upset incumbent Ryan Sitton in the March primary.
How to Vote
Early voting ends July 10.
Residents who voted in the Republican primary in March cannot cross parties and vote in the Democratic primary, but those who voted in the Democratic primary or who didn’t vote in the March primary can cast their ballots beginning Monday.
Early voting is taking place in Room 100 at the Panola County courthouse, which is on the first floor near the Wellington Street entrance. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and early voting will be available during lunchtime.
Election Day is July 14 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at individual precinct polling places throughout the county.
Voters must have one of seven approved forms of photo ID at the polls. Voters who do not possess ID and cannot reasonably obtain one can execute a Reasonable Impediment Declaration form and provide a supporting form of identification.
The seven forms of approved photo ID are:
With the exception of the U.S. Citizenship Certificate, which does not expire, the acceptable photo ID must be current or, for voters aged 18-69, have expired no more than four years before being presented for voter qualification at the polling place. A voter 70 years of age or older may use a form of acceptable photo ID listed above that has expired for any length of time if the identification is otherwise valid.
If a voter does not possess one of the forms of acceptable photo identification listed above, and the voter cannot reasonably obtain such identification, the voter may fill out a Reasonable Impediment Declaration form, which will be available at each polling location, and present a copy or original of one of the following supporting forms of identification:
The address on an acceptable form of photo identification or a supporting form of identification, if applicable, does not have to match the voter’s address on the list of registered voters.
Call the Panola County Elections Office at (903) 693-0370 with any questions. Voters can also visit votetexas.gov for more information how to vote.
Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs is encouraging all eligible voters to take advantage of the extended early voting period and to follow recommended health guidelines amidst COVID-19.
“Despite COVID-19, the drumbeat of our democracy has marched on,” Hughs said. “I strongly encourage all eligible Texans to set aside time now so they can be prepared to cast a ballot during the early voting period or on Election Day. It is essential to our democracy that Texans are able to safely and confidently cast their vote.”
For Wendi Everingham, making a life-changing difference in the lives of children has been most rewarding in her role at CASA of Harrison, Marion and Panola Counties.
“We train qualified volunteers to work as the eyes and ears of the court, to serve in the best interest of the children that we serve in three counties,” said Everingham.
For a decade, she’s served the nonprofit child advocacy organization, starting as business manager in September 2009 to her now new role as executive director, in which she was appointed this past October, succeeding long-time director Marcy Minor.
“Wendi is doing a fantastic job,” Board President Vivian Lewis said of Everingham. “She has stepped into this executive director role and made a big difference the way the office is run.”
Everingham said she’s honored to be named the new executive director.
“It’s such a worthwhile organization, and we’re able to help positively shape the lives of the children,” she said.
CASA, which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate, acts as the eyes and ears of the court by advocating in the best interest of children who are in the custody of Child Protective Services due to abuse or neglect.
Everingham joined the CASA staff in September 2009, two years after the chapter launched.
“We were founded by Marcy Minor in 2007,” said Everingham. “She founded our chapter and I helped Marcy, in 2012, add the other counties of Marion and Panola County, under her direction.”
The CASA office was originally housed in an incubator on the downtown square in Marshall.
“We shared probably about a 10x10 room, and we just kind of built it from the ground up,” Everingham recalled.
The CASA organization has worked vigorously throughout the years, making an impact in the lives of abused and neglected children, providing emotional, financial and moral support.
“We’ve hosted several fundraisers, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years,” Everingham shared.
“We have served — since I’ve been here — 1,057 children and we have managed 667 cases,” she added. “It’s a pretty amazing feat when you look at it.”
Everingham’s new appointment as executive director came just right before the challenging times of COVID-19. Lewis noted she’s done a great job navigating through the crisis.
“With this COVID -19 it’s been hard (setting) these Zoom meetings,” said Lewis. “But, she’s done a very good job keeping us up-to-date on all the organization, from Texas CASA... keeping us abreast of all that has gone on.”
Everingham said she has a great group of dedicated volunteers, who have also made sure that the needs of their young clients and foster families continue to be met during the global pandemic.
“I think last quarter we served like 122 children; and, of course, we’re kind of tackling the new circumstances with the COVID-19 and the visits,” she said. “We’ve had some children that we’ve delivered meals to and one volunteer that’s delivering puzzles.”
“Now more than ever it’s just very important that we’re try to keep eyes and ears on those children,” she said, expounding that the pandemic has caused not only boredom for children, but left a financial strain and emotional stress on families.
“Families are stressed now more than ever,” said Everingham. “Our volunteers have tried very hard and have been successful in getting with those children and families, trying to assist in any way that we can.”
Everingham said the local CASA is excited about the new group of volunteers that will be joining them soon.
“We have nine new volunteers that are training right now,” she said.
The group will be sworn in as new advocates on June 30 in the Harrison County courtroom of 71st Judicial District Judge Brad Morin.
One of Everingham’s goals as the new executive director is to expand CASA’s brand by making an impact in the lives of children that are permanently placed in foster care.
“We do temporary managing conservative cases, but I’m hoping at some point we can expand our role to stay in the lives of children,” she said.