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The Sunday Paper Spotlights CBWW Board Member
Dr. Adrienne Mims
Unsung Heroes
SP honors everyday people who are making a difference

Article Source: http://www.sundaypaper.com | Sunday, March 22, 2009

Andienne Mims
When Adrienne Mims first heard about Atlanta’s non-profit Center for Black Women’s Wellness, she jumped at the chance to put her considerable background—more than 15 years of experience in providing quality health care with Kaiser Permanente—to use for a worthy cause.

“I found out they’re a community-based organization that provides resources to African-American women, and I thought this was something I could lend a hand to as a physician,” she says.

By the time she joined the Center’s volunteer board in 2006, however, she saw an opportunity to expand its services.

“I was thrilled that they’re able to provide well-women health care—pap smears, breast exams, screening and lab work—on a sliding scale for low-income women,” she says. “But as women age, especially into middle age, they develop chronic diseases, like diabetes and hypertension."

On top of that, “Dr. Mims had been talking to us for a while about the need for providing more health care services for the uninsured,” says Jemea Dorsey, the Center’s CEO. But funding proved an issue until Dorsey met with the Georgia Free Clinic Network about the possibility of using volunteer doctors.

“I brought it to [Mims’] attention and she jumped all over it,” Dorsey says. “She said, ‘Jemea, this is what I’ve been wanting to do for the last two years!’”

And so the Center opened its Safety Net Clinic last July. Mims, who was already helping to spread word about the Center throughout the community in addition to her current role as Medical Director for APS Healthcare’s Georgia Medicaid Management Program, volunteered her services as a physician. Four times a month, Mims, a nurse and a receptionist provide free screening and monitoring for uninsured patients, as well as those with chronic conditions like diabetes.

And in addition to its core constituency of black women, the Clinic has thrown open its doors to a new demographic.

“Dr. Mims came up with the idea of serving not just women, but men,” says Dorsey. “That was never our focus, but she suggested we open it up to men to deal with issues like prostate cancer prevention, because often men never go to the doctor unless there’s a problem.”

The clinic is already at capacity, and Mims’ next priority is enlisting more physicians to volunteer their time. Meanwhile, she’s helping patients who might otherwise have fallen through the cracks, like one woman whose illness was affecting not only herself but the young grandson in her care.

“When she first came in, she was having trouble dealing with diabetes on her own,” Mims says. “She was on a large quantity of insulin every day, plus pills. She was very sick. She was vomiting a lot, and her blood sugar was very far out of control.”

Now, “she’s off insulin, her blood sugar is excellent, and her blood pressure is excellent. And she’s started taking a class in accounting.”

People like these, Mims says, “can’t afford a doctor visit, lab care, prescriptions—so they do without.” And making a difference in their lives has touched her own.

“It’s been a joy,” she says.—Kevin Forest Moreau

The Safety Net Clinic at the Center for Black Women’s Wellness is open the second and fourth Thursday and Saturday of each month; 5 p.m.-8 p.m. Thursdays and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays. To make an appointment, call 404-688-9202, ext. 10. For more information, visit www.cbww.org.

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