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August 7, 2008 EDITION
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Open house at infamous Bowie Mansion benefits Clinic

The home at the end of West Second Street in West Jefferson, locally known as the Bowie Mansion, opened

its gates to visitors on Saturday, Aug. 2 to benefit the Ashe County Free Medical Clinic. An early estimate from the clinic said approximately 200 guests visited the Bowie Mansion during the open house.

In 1901, an ambitious young lawyer named Thomas (Tam) Contee Bowie returned to northwest North Carolina to begin his career in law and public service. A lawyer, legislator and principal founder of the town of West Jefferson, Tam built a grand home in 1917 that has come to be known in Ashe County as the "Bowie Mansion." Owned by only two families, the home has been a topic of admiration, curiosity and speculation by natives and visitors alike. The home's rich architectural details illustrate the original owner's ideals in terms of history, era and aspirations. After extensive renovations by current owners, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Cheatham and Albert Cheatham, the home embraces the technology and comforts of the 21st century while retaining the architectural integrity of its past.

The beneficiary of the open house, the Ashe County Free Medical Clinic, was started to meet the needs of the uninsured and low income people in Ashe. The planning for the clinic got underway in 2003.

According to information from the clinic, in Ashe County 3,372 people, approximately 21.7 percent are medically uninsured. 3,658 people are below the poverty level.

Last year the clinic provided 526 medical visits to patients in Ashe County. Services were valued at $494,000. The Clinic's prescription program was valued at $105,000. In 2008 the clinic anticipated providing over 1,200 patient medical visits and in 2009 over 1,800 medical visits.

The Ashe County Free Medical Clinic, joining 73 other free clinics scattered in 47 North Carolina counties, opened its doors in 1600 square feet office space on July 13, 2006, and is currently providing medical care through the financial support of the community, BCBS Foundation, Kate B. Reynolds Foundation and fund raisers.

The clinic just recently received Level One Accreditation from the North Carolina Association of Free Clinics. They received this for meeting basic performance measures in management and administration and will maintain this status until Sept. 30, 2011.

Over 60 physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, laboratory and non-medical volunteers provided over 8,000 service hours since opening in 2006.

Scott Litten, Clinic Director said that the main priority for the Clinic is "helping those who are trying to help themselves, to make a better tomorrow today.

"I believe that no human being can do more than this, to make life for another possible, if even only for a moment," said Litten.

Many regional specialists assist the clinic and its patients with specialty services including cardiology, lab services, diabetes education, ophthalmology, mental health, pregnancy, orthopedic, OB-GYN, podiatry, urology, radiology, chiropractic, neurology, and dental services.

The Clinic employs a Director, part-time Patient Care Coordinator (RN), Physicians Assistant and an LPN (both 8 hours per week through a Kate. B. Reynolds Foundation grant).

The Clinic sees patients for eligibility screenings on Monday 4-6 p.m. and for medical services Tuesday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Thursday evenings 5 p.m.- 9 p.m. Lab services are provided on Thursday evening and Friday mornings.

Clinic staff offered a thanks to Elaine Graham, Joan Davis and Claire Hammitt for organizing the event, and a special thanks to owners Albert Cheatham and Walter and Gloria Cheatham.

The Ashe County Free Medical Clinic is located at 105 East Main Street at the corner of Highways 88 and old 16 in Jefferson.

For more information about the clinic, call (336) 846-4649 or visit

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