Concerned community members rally to ‘save the Moss Free Clinic’

by | Apr 21, 2024 | ALLFFP, Health & Wellness, Non-Profits

Lloyd Moss Jr. recalls his father’s trademark retort for whenever someone would make reference to his namesake health center.  

“His comment was always, ‘It’s not my clinic.’” Moss Jr. said of the late Dr. Lloyd F. Moss, who helped found the Moss Free Clinic back in 1993. “It’s the Fredericksburg community’s, and it’s the volunteers’ clinic.” 

On Sunday afternoon, nearly 100 people gathered in a Taco Bell parking lot less than a mile from the clinic’s doors with a shared aim: taking ownership of its now-precarious future.  

Many carried red signs with white lettering that read: “Support the Moss Free Clinic,” as well as hand-crafted messages critical of Mary Washington Healthcare, which decided it will cease discussions with the clinic’s Board of Directors regarding funding. 

“The threat is that the Moss Free Clinic is not financially viable, and we need support,” Dr. Patrick Neustatter, the clinic’s longtime volunteer medical director, told the crowd on Sunday. “Unfortunately, that usually means money. We’re trying to find as many partnerships as we can to keep things coming.” 

Moss, which has fully exhausted funds from a $10 million capital campaign conducted in 2004, recently announced that it will close its clinic and pharmacy on Fridays to reduce operating costs.  

Lloyd Moss Jr. also pushed back against arguments — made publicly by MWHC  — that the region’s more robust healthcare network, combined with Virginia’s 2018 Medicare expansion, has gradually diminished Moss’s once-outsized role in treating Fredericksburg’s uninsured and indigent population.  

“Despite everything you’ve heard that they can go elsewhere, that’s inefficient, ineffective, and the patients won’t get the same care,” Moss Jr. said.  

More than a decade ago, Jim Eagan was one of those patients. After falling into bankruptcy and moving back in with his mother in downtown Fredericksburg, he developed a painful abscess on a tooth.  

“There was nowhere else I could go,” said Eagan, who was unemployed and uninsured at the time. 

As a patient at Moss, Eagan received additional treatment for a benign tumor in his abdomen. The clinic’s behavioral health services also enabled him to seek a diagnosis of adult ADHD, he said.  

“I remember thinking at the time that if I ever do make it big or something, I’m going to make sure the money went to them,” Eagan said.  

There was no such windfall on Sunday, only a folding table with T-shirts and a recommended $20 donation. Those interested in supporting the clinic can also do so via its website and a GoFundMe campaign that was started on March 26; to date, it’s raised just $176 of a $25,000 goal.

Supporters of the Moss Free Clinic display signage for traffic traveling south on Emancipation Highway. (Photo by Joey LoMonaco)

“I love to see the support, but we need money,” said Stacy Horne, a member of the Moss board and its former president. “The funding we had in the past, a lot of it is no longer there… Give where you can, and allow us to keep operating the way we have for 30 years.” 

Joanne Henry, the clinic’s director of patient care, recounted how she started at Moss as a volunteer before deciding to make the clinic her “life’s work.”  

“I don’t want to work for a big corporation,” said Henry, a registered nurse.  

Throughout Sunday’s event, there were more than a few references to such an entity. One rallygoer’s sign read, “Dr. McDermott, do you need the clinic’s money for a new house?” a reference to the MWHC CEO and the hospital system’s plans to renovate the historic Snowden House with the addition of an apartment-style dwelling.  

Lloyd Moss III took the microphone at one point to decry what he viewed as “a ton of negativity with all sides of the equation.” 

“I’d like to kind of challenge everyone moving forward to channel that negativity,” Moss III said. “Let’s focus on keeping the free clinic going.” 

Funding aside, that won’t be an issue for Henry and the clinic’s formidable volunteer staff. 

“We’re going to stay there until the doors close,” she said. “We hope the doors never close, but we’re going to be there.” 

Mary Washington Healthcare, an individual or organization central to this story, is a major donor to the Free Press. Donors do not influence newsroom operations.

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