Category Archive News

TFC Founder Dr. Russell Sacco inducted to Henderson County Walk of Fame

This week, the Henderson County Walk of Fame Committee announced the induction of 12 new members to the Walk of Fame. Included in this honor is Dr. Russell Sacco, one of The Free Clinics’s founders.

“A physician, Sacco was the first medical adviser for Pardee Hospital’s geriatric evaluation team, the first medical director for the Henderson County Health Agency and one of the founders of The Free Clinics.”

Read more about the new inductees at the Hendersonville Lightning​ HERE.


The Free Clinics to open new Polk County office

(Hendersonville, NC)….28 February 2020…. The Free Clinics (TFC) was recently announced one of the recipients of Dogwood Health Trust’s Immediate Opportunities and Needs (ION) Grants, receiving an award of $16,300. 

The grant enables TFC to open a new, dedicated office in Polk County later this spring.

Last year, The Free Clinics provided access to over $1.39M in value of care to Polk County residents, all while working out of several spaces shared with other social services in the area.

The new office, located in Columbus, will provide a stable, central location for patients to access TFC’s care, while allowing for more employees and volunteers to supplement available services. 

Polk case manager Jada Scruggs says of her new space, “I am so excited to be in a location where the people of Polk County can come in to learn more about The Free Clinics and how our team can serve them, no matter the need—even if what they may need is just to have a listening ear.” 

TFC executive director Judith Long echoes Scruggs’ excitement. “The need in Polk County is great; these funds allow us to expand and deepen our work. This is a tremendous investment in persons in need. We are deeply grateful to Dogwood Health Trust for their support.”

TFC will announce a grand opening once renovations on the space are complete.

For more information about The Free Clinics in Polk County please contact Polk Case Manager Jada Scruggs, CCMA at 828.697.8422 or

The Free Clinics is changing lives together, with hope and health. Established in 2001, TFC partners with over 220 volunteers and 179 community health care providers to ensure quality, accessible care for over 2,000 of our uninsured, low-income neighbors in Henderson and Polk Counties. TFC programming employs a person-centered model to address acute and chronic conditions, mental and behavioral health, medication access, and other barriers to health for the most vulnerable among us. To learn more, visit

Dogwood Health Trust is a North Carolina nonprofit corporation with the sole purpose of dramatically improving the health and well-being of all people and communities of Western North Carolina. Dogwood Health Trust became operational upon the sale of Mission Health’s assets to HCA Healthcare and is the recipient of the net proceeds of the sale. To learn more, please visit


Homelessness changing in Hendersonville: More youth & families, substance misuse & mental health, & an Asheville influx

Rebecca Walter at the Times-News takes an in-depth look at homelessness in our area, and the actions local organizations like TFC and many others are taking to address the underlying issues that contribute to it.

Read more at BlueRidgeNow HERE


New Henderson County inmate program focuses on treatment behind bars

WLOS interviews Tina LaFoy, The Free Clinics’s new Patient Health Advocate/Navigator based at the Henderson County Detention Center, about the steps the county is taking to help inmates with substance misuse and behavioral issues, in hopes of reducing recidivism once released.

Watch the clip and read the story HERE.


The Free Clinics transforms diabetes program with funding from Pisgah Health Foundation

RN Hannah Parks speaks with a patient at one of TFC’s evening clinics.
Photo by Byron Collins

(Hendersonville, NC)….29 January 2020…. The Free Clinics (TFC) was recently announced one of Pisgah Health Foundation’s inaugural grant recipients, receiving an award of $75,000 for its diabetes program. 

The grant enables TFC to transform its long-standing diabetes program into a comprehensive drop-in group visit model, based on its award-winning Bridges to Health program, to serve Henderson and Polk Counties’ most vulnerable persons with diabetes. The model allows TFC to serve as the patient’s primary care provider, with multiple health specialists present at each diabetes group visit, including a medical provider, behavioral health specialist, nurse, occupational therapist, health educator, patient health advocate, and clinical pharmacist. 

The new program will debut on Thursday, February 13, 2020.

Hannah Parks, TFC’s Diabetes Nurse Case Manager, says, “I think the program meets a real need that the community has to integrate diabetes care with a really knowledgeable team. The extra piece that we offer is the compassion, and the benefit of the group visit model and that peer support.”

Dr. Steven Crane, TFC’s Volunteer Medical Director and creator of the original Bridges to Health program, says of the changes, “Among the most important insights we learned from 10 years of our Bridges program is that support and advice from others like you who are in the process of making similar changes is a critical component of success.  The group visit model, which has been so successful in helping patients recover from trauma, homelessness, addiction, and hopelessness, is the perfect model for patients who have struggled unsuccessfully to get control of their diabetes.”

Parks adds, “I have hope about how the group dynamic will work with managing a chronic illness that is often very isolating. With diabetes you’re potentially checking your blood sugar at every meal, it messes up everything that you enjoy about food and interferes with your family and life, so I’m curious to see how being in a group setting works—what impact it has when patients can see, You’re not alone, you have support.”

The Free Clinics is actively seeking new, uninsured patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes or prediabetes to join the group.

For more information about the Diabetes program at The Free Clinics please contact Diabetes Case Manager Hannah Parks, RN at 828.697.8422 or

The Free Clinics is changing lives together, with hope and health. Established in 2001, TFC partners with over 220 volunteers and 179 community health care providers to ensure quality, accessible care for over 2,000 of our uninsured, low-income neighbors in Henderson and Polk Counties. TFC programming employs a person-centered model to address acute and chronic conditions, mental and behavioral health, medication access, and other barriers to health for the most vulnerable among us. To learn more, visit

The Pisgah Health Foundation is a public 501(c)(3) charity founded in 2019, by a board of seven caring individuals focused on improving the health, wellness and lives of western North Carolina residents. The organization evolved out of the Transylvania Regional Hospital Foundation. Pisgah Health Foundation’s drive is to improve health and wellness by addressing healthy opportunities in targeted social determinants of health areas including Health, Food Insecurity, Housing, Social Cohesion and Education. Board Members include Cathleen Blanchard; Dave Neumann, Esq.; Jamie Ramsey, MD; Jeremy Purcell; Art Fisher; Jim Tyson, MD; Jim Wright, MD. Lex Green, CPA serves as President. To learn more, please visit


Henderson County inmates to receive mental health, recovery services from The Free Clinics, Vaya Health

By Rebecca Walter

“Vaya Health and The Free Clinics are teaming up to help Henderson County Detention Center inmates get counseling and other support to tackle mental health and addiction challenges. […] Over 70% of adults involved in the criminal justice system have substance use disorders, and up to 34% have serious mental illnesses.”



Grant funds 2 new hires to combat substance misuse in Henderson County

Photo by Patrick Sullivan/Times-News File

By Rebecca Walter
Times-News Staff Writer

“Two peer support outreach specialists will be added to the growing efforts combating substance misuse in Henderson County, thanks to a recent Community Linkages to Care Grant Award.

The primary staff members for the Post-Overdose Response Team will be two peer support outreach specialists. These part-time positions will utilize the data provided by the two local emergency departments as well as county EMS to engage in follow-up within 72 hours for those who have experienced an overdose and/or been resuscitated by Naloxone, according to the proposal summary. The hope is to prevent repeat overdoses. “

Read more at BlueRidgeNow here.


Season of Giving: Nonprofits step in where government help ends

TFC Volunteer Medical Director Dr. Stephen Crane leads a Bridges to Health group medical visit in the Henderson County Detention Center.
Photo by TFC staff, Sept 2019.

“The county jail is responsible for confining and feeding men and women accused of crimes but can do much less than is needed to fix what got the inmates locked up to start with — drug and alcohol addiction. The Free Clinics steps in to provide more than a quarter million dollars’ worth of drugs each year, and is expanding a partnership of after-care to keep inmates on a rehab course when they’re set free.

“[The Free Clinics] fills a need [in the jail] that can have an effect countywide by helping us try to reduce this dependency and reduce the recidivism because of that,” Sheriff Griffin says.

Read more at the Hendersonville Lightning.


Sanctuary Brewing, Saluda Hair Garage offer free haircuts during Help for Hendo event

By Staff Reports

The event, commonly known as H4H, will be held Monday, Nov. 18 from 9 a.m. to noon at Sanctuary Brewing Co., 147 First Ave. E., Hendersonville.

Michael Cohen of Saluda Hair Garage will be offering free haircuts and Sanctuary Brewing Co. will serve a warm meal to those in need.

Goodwill and The Free Clinics will share information about their services and other area resources.



Community the key to solving opioid crisis

Photo by Stephen Kindland for the Times-News

By Stephen Kindland, Times-News Correspondent

Nationally recognized addiction recovery activist Ryan Hampton told about 300 people gathered at Blue Ridge Community College that the nation’s opioid crisis won’t end until comprehensive communitywide efforts are made to address the problem.

Judy Long, executive director of The Free Clinics – which treats low-income patients in its building on Case Street off Upward Road – has 220 volunteers who deliver more than 20 health-related programs through a network of 180 health and community partners, including three hospitals.

“We’ve done a tremendous amount of work as a community to stem the flow of inappropriate prescriptions, and to reduce the impact of the pill form of opioids on our streets,” Long said. “What we’re finding now in the aftermath of that is the extensive presence of fentanyl (a narcotic similar to heroin) in our communities. People who think they’re taking one drug are actually taking fentanyl because it’s mixed in.

“But there’s a lot more awareness of the opioid epidemic and what we need to do as a community, what physicians need to do, what pharmacists need to do, and what lay people need to do,” she added.