For the Troy Daily News
TROY — It was a warm August day when Eddie Tucker stopped into Health Partners Free Clinic for the first time. Tucker, a veteran and resident of Troy, had what he thought was just a bad charlie-horse in his leg, but his concerns grew when that led to a numbness and tingling that wouldn’t go away. He was on his way to the hospital when he thought he would just take a stop into the local free clinic.
Tucker was soon to find out from the clinic’s nurse practitioners, JoAnn Barhorst and her then student Polly Baltes, that he most likely had a blockage in a major artery that was feeding blood to his lower leg. Furthermore, he was made aware that if a condition like this is not soon addressed, amputation of the limb may surely follow. The clinic staff wasted no time getting a call out to the Upper Valley Medical Center for an ambulance and request for an arterial doppler for Eddie.
The Health Partners staff would later find out when Tucker returned for follow-up care that he was transported to Miami Valley Hospital yet that day and taken into emergency surgery. Through the hands of the surgeons that cared for Tucker, he was able to have his arterial clot cleared and save his leg.
Over the next two years, Tucker would become a patient and friend of the clinic’s. He was so grateful for the clinical and office staff including, Sherry Frye, who made him feel “like someone cared,” that he made it his job to put a smile on the face of everyone he encountered at Health Partners. He would tell just about anyone who would listen his story and the fact that he has his leg today, because of the quick actions of the nurse practitioners. Tucker’s high spirits lasted until one day this past June, when he came into the clinic with obvious frustration.
Tucker was at a regular follow-up appointment when he sought out executive director, Justin Coby, with one question on his mind.
“Eddie pulled me into one of our patient rooms with a dead serious look on his face that I will never forget,” recalls Coby. “He wanted to know just why this clinic that he drives past daily and thinks so fondly of, doesn’t have an American flag flying on a pole.”
Coby went on to comment, “Well, I just didn’t know what to say in response. I had no good reason for our nation’s flag not to be a part of our grounds, but had never really thought of putting one up. When Eddie said he would help me do just that, then I figured we had nothing to lose.”
Once the clinic’s staff and board of directors got wind of the project, everyone jumped in on it. A friend of Tuckers and local business owner, Dan Dalton, also wished to contribute to the project. His company, Dalton Concrete Construction dug the hole and laid the concrete for the base of the pole. Former board president Thom Baker and his company Wappoo Wood donated the flagpole, and Eddie put the finishing touches on the endeavor by donating the first flag and two back-ups to be flown.
When asked to comment on why he felt so strongly about the installation of this flagpole, Tucker replied, “Well, you know I owe my leg to this clinic and as a veteran I wanted to give back in some way. I received the best care here at the highest quality. Just because the sign says it’s free, doesn’t mean that the staff doesn’t care. I tell people all the time to come out here and give them a try.”
Health Partners Free Clinic is located on County Road 25-A just north of Troy, and more information about the clinic is available on the website www.healthpartnersclinic.org. In 2016, the clinic treated 911 unduplicated patients, which equated into 3,406 physician appointments. Coby also noted the clinic provided some 2,393 patient lab/diagnostic tests; and 8,431 clinic-dispensed free prescriptions valued at nearly $1 million. Overall, the clinic provided $5.55 in medical services for every $1 spent.