- Associated Press - Monday, April 14, 2014

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. (AP) - After 12 years, the nonprofit DeSoto Health & Wellness Center in Southaven is closing its doors on April 30.

The Commercial Appeal reports (https://bit.ly/1guGd4V ) the clinic, which offered medical services to the working poor and uninsured on a sliding scale based on income, was one of the first of its kind in Northwest Mississippi.

Billie Wilhite, the center’s board of director’s president and longtime volunteer, says it’s very difficult to keep it open financially. “We don’t have the donations and grants that it takes to keep it open,” Wilhite said.

The center was founded in October 2002 by former State Rep. Valeria Robertson, of Olive Branch, and her husband, Dr. Jim Robertson, a neurosurgeon.

The clinic, which was patterned after the Church Health Center in Memphis, opened in the Walls area, but in 2008 it moved to Southaven because it was more centrally located.

The clinic was given space by the city of Southaven in the old M.R. Davis library, which now serves as city court in the front of the building and the clinic was in the back.

In the 12 years it has been open, the center has served about 35,000 uninsured people in DeSoto County.

“When I was teaching high school, I would have students that were sick and they would come to school sick,” Wilhite said. “I would ask them why they came to school sick and they said they didn’t have money to go to the doctor, so I would send them to the Church Health Center in Memphis.”

She added, “When I retired, I always planned to volunteer at the Church Health Center, but then this clinic opened in Walls and I decided to help out there.”

Wilhite and Sue Poff, the secretary-treasurer on the board, have volunteered long hours to help keep the clinic going.

Both women said they are sad to see it close but are encouraged that another new nonprofit clinic will serve the community.

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Information from: The Commercial Appeal, https://www.commercialappeal.com


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