The Knox Clinic founder, board president, and volunteer medical director, Dr. Paul Klainer (Photo Courtesy The Knox Clinic)
The Knox Clinic founder, board president, and volunteer medical director, Dr. Paul Klainer (Photo Courtesy The Knox Clinic)
“I have no idea where I’d be without the clinic.”

David was speaking about the last few years, a time in which he both became sober and was successfully treated for cancer. Three years earlier he had lost the apartment he was renting when the owners sold the house. With nowhere to live but his car, he began drinking heavily. Alcohol had been a problem for him since he first began drinking in elementary school. Yet he had often been sober and enjoyed his work as a case manager. With the right supports he knew he could get back to the life he wanted to live, but he didn’t have health insurance and couldn’t afford counseling or medical care. It was then that David connected with the Knox Clinic.

There, David had access to free primary care and assistance obtaining prescriptions. He also met with a licensed clinical social worker, Judith Hatch-Orme, who connected him with housing assistance and helped provide support as he worked to regain sobriety. It was during his medically supervised detox process at Pen Bay Medical Center that he was diagnosed with cancer. The volunteer physicians at the Knox Clinic followed up to help supervise David’s ongoing care while he received treatment.

The Knox Clinic is a community-funded nonprofit opened by Dr. Paul and Jeanne Klainer 20 years ago. On that first Wednesday evening in June of 1999, Dr. Klainer saw four patients. Now, on a typical Wednesday evening three providers (from a roster of 12 volunteers) see two or three new patients and 12 returning patients. On other days, patients are able to call the clinic to set up appointments, have medications refilled or confer with the clinic’s executive director. Many patients and volunteers have been coming for over 15 years, building caring and trusting relationships.

Over the years the clinic has grown to more than 80 volunteers and seven part-time staff providing affordable medical, dental, mental health and prescription assistance. Despite the recent expansion of MaineCare, the Knox Clinic continues to see new patients every week. The patients at the Knox Clinic are our neighbors. Many work hard and earn enough to get by, but not enough to pay for health insurance premiums, and yet too much to qualify for government programs, like MaineCare. The clinic offers them respectful support, with a goal of transforming our community into one where people can care for themselves and their families.

It has been three years since his cancer diagnosis and David is now sober and cancer free, and working again as a case manager. Because his job is part-time he, like many other workers, receives no benefits. David has had hard times over the years, but today he sounds optimistic about his future. He has stable housing, a job and support from clinic staff who are, he says, “genuinely concerned.” When asked if the clinic had had an impact on his life, he answered immediately, “Definitely.”

The Knox Clinic is a volunteer-funded and operated nonprofit that advocates for, and provides, free and low-cost medical, dental, prescription assistance, mental health and wellness services to the uninsured and underinsured in Knox County and border towns. To make a tax-deductible donation, to volunteer, or to request services, call 301-6996, or visit knoxclinic.org.