Free Clinic Finds a Home

charitable medical provider poised to move into permanent space

Barbara Arnold, photos by Andrea Paulseth, Joel Pearish

Chippewa Valley Free Clinic Executive Director Maribeth Woodford, left, and Medical Director Dr. Lori Whitis examine plans for the clinic’s new space.
Chippewa Valley Free Clinic Executive Director Maribeth Woodford, left, and Medical Director Dr. Lori Whitis examine plans for the clinic’s new space.

The Chippewa Valley Free Clinic, which provides free medical services to people unable to afford them in the Chippewa Valley, will open the doors of its new and forever home on Tuesday, Dec. 4. The clinic will be at 1030 Oak Ridge Drive, on the bus line just off Clairemont Avenue between Marshfield Clinic and Hospital and HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital. Its newly renovated 5,500-square-foot home is a former orthodontics dental office built in 1972.

“We are thrilled to have control over our future by owning our own building to serve patients.” – Maribeth Woodford, Chippewa Valley Free Clinic executive director

“We are thrilled to have control over our future by owning our own building to serve patients,” said CVFC Executive Director Maribeth Woodford. “The disruptions caused by being a renter and being forced to move three times in the past six years took us away from our main mission: serving our patients.”

Dozens of volunteers are helping make the move with minimum interruption to patients, although the clinic will be closed Nov. 28 to Dec.3 during the move. “We are indebted to our many volunteers,” noted Woodford. “We could not do what we do without them.”

The new clinic will provide patients with a more traditional clinic experience and expand from five to six exam rooms and from two to three dental chairs, according to Dr. Lori Whitis, the clinic’s medical director. Whitis is a retired family physician who helped create a free clinic in Fort Dodge, Iowa. “Our new building provides a comfortable, professional, and welcoming environment for our patients and our volunteers,” she said. “It’s exciting to have our ‘own’ place, set up exactly the way we want it.”

The clinic had to relocate after its previous home in the Syverson Lutheran Home, 816 Porter Ave., was sold. Dr. Steven Weiss, CVFC board president, serves on the board of the Eau Claire YMCA with Jason Wudi of Pablo Properties. This relationship helped create a collaborative mindset. Generous donations from Pablo Properties, Commonweal Development Corp., and Market Family Investments helped CVFC find its new home and kick-started the clinic’s capital campaign.

Weiss, an internist at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, first volunteered at CVFC when it opened in 1997. Since then, the clinic has treated more than 9,000 patients and provided more than 44,063 patient visits. Weiss has logged hundreds of hours during his 21 years of service.

Weiss’ inspiration for serving the CVFC initially came from Dr. Paul Farmer, a medical doctor who co-founded the global nonprofit Partners in Health, which provides health care in the poorest areas in developing countries. “Health is a human right,” Weiss said. “We need to figure out how to make good health a possibility for everyone.”

On Friday, Nov. 30, the CVFC will hold a special event at the Lismore Hotel to thank its partners and reveal the look of its new location. Tickets for the VIP event – which will run 5:30-6pm – are $75, and they include access to the main event from 6-8pm. Tickets to the main event alone are $35. The VIP event will include a meet and greet with the CVFC board of directors and the Pablo Foundation. The main event will focus on the unveiling of the architectural renderings of the new facility, along with remarks from Weiss, Woodford, and the Pablo Foundation. Tickets are available from VolumeOneTickets.org.

The event also kicks off the capital fundraising campaign to help pay for the new building and fund day-to-day operations. The goal is $1.1 million, more than half of which has already been raised. Learn more at cvfreeclinic.org.

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