Dr. Richard Hudson retired as a family physician in the fall of 1998. Soon after, he worked with the members of Saint Thomas Episcopal Church to start a free medical clinic for the working poor of Pamlico County.
Pamlico County is in eastern North Carolina and ranks 93rd among the 100 counties of North Carolina in poverty and reduced physician/patient ratio. About 40% of the 13,000 residents are classified as working poor. They earn less than 200% of poverty wages defined by the United States Department of Health and Resources. There are also considerable numbers of migrant workers, and these two groups often have to work two minimum wages jobs just to provide basic necessities. They do not have any kind of health insurance, and they only seek emergency care at a local hospital in a crisis.
Dr. Hudson took a look at the statistics and made a change. He founded Hope Clinic to provide free medical care, laboratory tests and free medicines for common medical problems. It took about six months of preparation, but Dr. Hudson’s reputation in the community allowed him to recruit a volunteer force of doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, Spanish speaking interpreters, administrators and lab technicians.
A local pharmacy near the clinic volunteered to stay open the night the clinic operated and to provide some of the more expensive medicines at cost. A medicine assistance program and common x-ray facilities were provided through the local County Health Department who also opened its doors to house the Clinic. When needed, volunteer consultations were obtained from specialists in the Craven and Pamlico counties. In 2001, more than 2000 patient visits were provided at Hope Clinic.
In addition to founding and working at Hope Clinic, Dr. Hudson has volunteered at a similar facility, Merci Clinic, since 1999. Initially, he was co-medical director but has recently taken the responsibility at Medical Director. Both clinics do not receive any insurance benefits or public funds. They rely on individual benefactors, businesses, churches and grants. Some of their grant sources are the United Way, Duke Endowment and Kate B. Reynolds. Dr. Hudson has worked quietly and diligently to improve the health and health care of the poor in rural Bayboro, North Carolina.