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Clinic organizer McCord receives national award for public service

Although she's received two prestigious awards for her work, Amy McCord gets more out of the work itself.

Mrs. McCord recently was given the Jefferson Award by WJBF-TV News Channel 6 for organizing and operating a clinic that provides free or reduced-cost medical care to the uninsured in McDuffie County.

Although the clinic regularly helps more than 150 patients, Mrs. McCord considers each one unique and a success.

"It's just one person at a time," she said. "We are not really changing the face of McDuffie County, but we're changing somebody's life. And that's what matters to me."

Named after President Thomas Jefferson, the Jefferson Award is a national recognition system honoring community and public service in America. It is awarded on a national and local level for extraordinary public service, according to the website of the same name.

Last summer, Mrs. McCord also received the "Giving Your Best" award from WJBF for the same work. At that time, news anchor Jennie Montgomery said the station receives hundreds of nominations each year for the award, but only chooses one a month. The winner of the annual Jefferson Award is selected from those 12 "Giving Your Best" honorees.

The other local winners of Giving Your Best raised funds to provide Christmas gifts for the needy; provided food, clothing and care packages for the homeless; implemented mentoring programs in schools and neighborhoods; assisted tornado victims; participated in disaster relief projects; or were volunteers for charitable organizations.

"I really didn't understand what I was winning until I started doing research after the fact," Mrs. McCord said. "I was really in shock because of all the great projects other people had started in their communities."

In June 2008, Mrs. McCord opened the McDuffie Medical Mission, a clinic that serves uninsured patients with chronic health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Through the clinic, the patients routinely see a doctor who prescribes and monitors prescription medication and performs lab tests. Vision and dental care also is provided.

"The volunteers in the clinic really care for the patients, and are there to help whenever they can, and to pray for people," Mrs. McCord said.

While working her job at McDuffie County Health Department, Mrs. McCord said she ran into the problem of not being able to refer people to doctors for their chronic medical care if they didn't have insurance or money to pay a doctor. So, Mrs. McCord met with her pastor at Thomson First United Methodist Church and got help from church members, doctors, nurses and trained volunteers to operate the clinic two days a month.

The Board of Directors of the Health Department allowed her to use their facility, saving her the expense of blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes, examination tables and the building itself.

The Department of Community Health provides training for the volunteers and covers the liability.

"I really accepted the award on behalf of the volunteers," Mrs. McCord said.

"Because without them, we could not keep the clinic going. I was just a spark, but they're the flame. And without them, the idea would still be sitting somewhere on a piece of paper. It's a really great honor to work with such dedicated and loving people."

In addition to her full-time job and the medical mission, Mrs. McCord recently returned to school to get her masters degree in nursing.

She and her husband, Chris, are the parents of two young sons and are actively involved in the Boy Scouts.

For more information on the McDuffie Medical Mission, call (706) 872-1665 and leave a message.

Web posted on Thursday, March 18, 2010

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