Knox Clinic celebrating 20 years of free health services

ROCKPORT, Maine (WABI) - Medical, mental, dental, and prescription health services...all for free.

That's what the Knox Clinic offers to folks in the area who don't have insurance or are uninsured.

They're celebrating 20 years of community caring.

Dr. Paul Klainer moved to Maine in the late 90s.

"I had been working in the Worcester area in the clinic for the uninsured," he explains, "and sort of expected that there would be one up here for me to continue working in."

He was wrong. Klainer decided to do something about it.

"And we got started and opened our doors in June of 99."

Two years later, the clinic acquired money from the tobacco settlement fund.

"Then we were able to obtain money to finance the hygienist and some of the equipment necessary," explains Klainer.

Joy Hollowell- For about 10 years, dental services were mobile. Then, this permanent facility opened in Rockport.

Today, Knox Clinic provides not only free medical and dental services, but also prescription assistance and mental health and wellness.

"The prescription assistance program, at 21 hours a week, does $1.6 million of free medication a year, and we've done over $17 million of medication total," says Klainer. "It's actually one of the best bangs for the buck, the number of services that we provide."

They serve residents of Knox County as well as the border towns of Waldoboro and Lincolnville.

"We provide a couple thousand visits a year," says clinic executive director Meredith Batley. "We have over 800 patients between the four programs."

More than 100 volunteers provide these services, from clinical to clerical.

"Many of our volunteers have been volunteering for those 20 years," says Batley. "It's engaging, wonderful and that's part of that special relationship. And a number of our patients have been here for 20 years as well."

D eanna Smith has been volunteering since the start.

"I saw in the paper that they were starting this free clinic. I called right in and told them I have a medical background and I wanted to volunteer no matter how they wanted to use me."

Several businesses allow Knox Clinic to borrow their spaces. As for funding, they rely solely on the generosity of the community.

"We don't have any federal funding, so it's primarily the donations of local folks," explains Batley. "And then we also have a number of churches and Rotary groups that support us. And a few local foundations that also have given us grants."

"I ran into a lady the other day who thanked me profusely because she came in and she had Lyme Disease," says Smith. "She had no insurance and didn't know what to do. And the clinic helped her. It's kind of surprising that after 20 years, there are still a lot of people who don't know about the clinic or hesitate to come."
In celebration of their 20th anniversary, Doris Buffet's Letters Foundation is offering a challenge grant.

For every dollar the clinic raises, they'll match it, dollar for dollar, up to $10,000.

Knox Clinic services primarily adults, up to age 65 when Medicare benefits become available. Their dental clinic accepts kids without insurance as well as those with Mainecare.

You don't have to be a patient in the medical clinic to take advantage of the prescription assistance program.

All services are confidential.

During the past year, volunteers and a part time staff of 7 provided more than 3,400 patients visits on a budget of $300,000.

For more information on how to donate, volunteer or obtain free services, you can contact the Knox Clinic at 301-6996 or log on to