PCC Recognizes Katie Clark for 20 years of dedicated care

This year Katie Clark, Nurse Coordinator, wraps up two decades of dedicated service at Physicians CareConnection. For Katie, a lifelong nurse, her career has always been more than just a job.

“My passion growing up was always to do mission work, so I went into nursing with that in mind,” Katie said.

This milestone is bittersweet for Katie, as she reflects on her experiences. Katie, a native of Ohio, trained at the Riverside-White Cross School of Nursing, but began her career in rural Tennessee. There she became certified as a family nurse practitioner and sat on the nation’s first board of family nurse practitioners. She was also instrumental in starting the Cumberland Peoples Health Clinic.

Katie Clark opens the Cumberland Peoples Health Clinic

“After writing three different grants, we got the funding to build a building. Up until then, we were in a trailer,” Katie said.

Katie served at this clinic for several years before moving back to Ohio where she met her husband. David, a minister, also had a heart for mission work. The two were married and had two children.

Over the next decade, Katie and her husband worked various jobs throughout the state of Ohio – and even spent two years doing mission work in Japan – before settling in Columbus. Through a series of city health jobs, Katie was introduced to the Physicians Free Clinic.

The four-room clinic, located at the old Columbus Health Department building, served patients who could not afford medical care. Katie, one of three staff members at the time, was charged with the task of coordinating this outreach.

Katie Clark works in her office at the Physician Free Clinic

It wasn’t long before the Physicians Free Clinic outgrew its original location in downtown Columbus and moved to a larger space within the Columbus Health Department building on Parsons Avenue, where it is currently located. At the same time this expansion occurred, there were also a growing number of Central-Ohioans who lacked insurance. The clinic’s patient count grew rapidly.

“I remember seeing over a hundred people, a hundred-twenty, one night,” Katie said.

However, along with this influx of patients, came a flood of volunteers. Everyone from nurses and medical students, to nationally-renowned doctors, started volunteering their time at the Free Clinic.

“I never had to go looking for people, we had an influx of people wanting to just come and help at the clinic. It was phenomenal,” Katie said.

As word of the clinic’s success began to spread throughout Columbus, the clinic continued to strengthen its reputation as a transformational outreach program. Doctors from every health system were happy to assist the Free Clinic’s staff.

“At that point in the ministry, all you had to do was pick up the phone and say, ‘I’m with the Physicians Free Clinic and I need something’ – and they would just do it,” Katie said.

By the mid-2000s, Katie and her staff – along with Dr. Edward Bope and a number of CMA supporters – had expanded the clinic’s frame of influence to impact a wide breadth of community health initiatives outside the clinic’s doors.

“One thing I like about the clinic – and Katie has a lot to do with this – they’re open to change. The processes have continued to evolve,” Dorothy Beehner, volunteer nurse at the clinic, said.

Katie Clark (third from left) celebrates a donation from Delta Dental Foundation along with other PCC staff members

Katie Clark (third from left) celebrates a donation from Delta Dental Foundation along with other PCC staff members

Audrey Barker, administrative coordinator for the clinic, says Katie was instrumental in laying the groundwork for several important care initiatives.

“She helped start the ground movement for what is now the Charitable Pharmacy and expanded the Good Samaritan Law. She was doing care coordination before anyone really knew what to call it,” Barker said.

These breakthroughs made it easier for physicians to care for uninsured patients within their practices, as they ensured doctors had the necessary legal protections. These developments also strengthened PCC’s rapidly-growing Voluntary Care Network.

Today, many of PCC’s outreach efforts would not have been possible without Katie’s discernment and dedication. Following her example, the staff have continue to develop new care programs that focus on the individual patient.

“Her legacy is building the foundation for this organization, in running the clinic and caring for patients,” Barker said.

Katie Clark (middle) poses with two nursing staff members at the Physicians Free Clinic

Katie Clark (middle) poses with two nursing staff members at the Physicians Free Clinic

Mary Mutegi, program coordinator for PCC, had the following to say about Katie;

“Katie leaves behind a legacy of tender loving care. I am not sure there will be anyone to fit into her shoes. Katie was more like a doctor than a nurse, who identified various patients’ medical conditions that often got missed. Each week Katie would meticulously review patients’ charts to ensure nothing got missed.”

Katie’s work with PCC and the Physicians Free Clinic has had a profound impact on the community, with ripples that continue to be felt today. With countless stories and positive outcomes, it’s clear that Katie’s life has touched many others. The CMA joins her patients and coworkers in wishing Katie Clark a very happy retirement.

Our sincerest thanks, Katie.