Longtime Carson City physician Dr. Rex Baggett is retiring Jan. 31, a loss that will be keenly felt at the Ross Clinic where he volunteers, said Monte Fast, executive director of Friends In Service Helping, or FISH.
Services are free at the clinic, which serves between 200 and 250 people each month. All patients have met strict criteria and have nowhere else to turn, Fast said.
"We have a large population in Carson City that's unserved, not underserved," he said. "This clinic is a safety valve.
"If these people can't be seen here, they must bite the bullet and go to the emergency room," he said. "A visit there can take them years to pay off, or they can stay sick and possibly get worse.
"Charlie Ross saw the need and did something about it," Fast said.
Founded by Dr. Charles Ross in 1997, the clinic has come a long way since its inception.
Ross started the clinic in a small room at FISH. The room was often crammed with patients and Fast made plans to remodel and expand his office. Then an anonymous donor stepped in to lease and remodel a larger nearby office, the current clinic site.
Ross died suddenly at the age of 47 and never practiced in the new clinic, but Baggett, and eventually retired surgeon Dr. William King, stepped in to fill the void.
King volunteers on Tuesday mornings, and Baggett on Tuesday afternoons. Local physicians Dr. Brian Hall and Dr. Patrick Gunn see patients by appointments on weekends. The clinic is staffed with about a dozen volunteers, and the $2,600 needed to cover basic costs are funded privately through the Angel Program.
Local doctors help stock the pharmacy by asking for extra free samples from pharmaceutical companies, but nurse practitioners Carol Read Andersen and Chris Fruegulia require an attending physician to write prescriptions.
"This is a miracle thing for Carson City," Fast said. "Not many cities have something like this to offer their needy patients. If two or more docs would give me a half day, we'd be meeting the need."
Contact Susie Vasquez at email@example.com or 881-1212.