Director of free clinic in Winchester resigns

The executive director of the Free Medical Clinic of the Northern Shenandoah Valley in Winchester has resigned, the clinic announced earlier this week.

Vicki McClelland, who has served as executive director for the clinic for 11 years, announced her resignation effective Tuesday. She cited the declining health of her father and the need to relocate to Pennsylvania to be a caregiver in determining her decision to step down, according to Russ Fowler, chairman of the clinic’s board of directors.

Already aware that McClelland might leave because of her father’s illness, he said, the board received official notice four weeks before her resignation.

“The decision to resign was somewhat abrupt, but things just got worse at home,” Fowler said.

“It wasn’t so much a surprise as the timing of it,” he said. “With executive directors it’s nice to have a couple months’ notice.”

However, McClelland has been extremely organized during her 11 years with the organization, and he said she more than made up for the shorter than expected notice by preparing staff and volunteers for her departure.

“We hate to see her go,” Fowler said.

McClelland’s resignation comes at a difficult time for the clinic, which Fowler said has been struggling with helping its patients find affordable prescription medications.

“That has gotten to be the key issue or one of the key issues that’s developed over the last two or three years,” Fowler said.

“The problems with all the free clinics right now is the benefactors have cut back … and money is tight.”

The clinic endeavors to provide free health care to patients and reduce the cost of prescription medications as much as it can, but has to contend with pharmaceutical companies’ cuts on affordable medications available through patient assistance.

Generic drugs have become more expensive and aren’t always available to patients.

“It’s kind of futile,” Fowler said.

McClellan’s assistant Brian Testerman has taken over as interim director until the board can find someone to fill the position, but Testerman has told the board the job isn’t for him.

“It’s a difficult job. It takes varying skills,” said Fowler.

The ideal candidate will have experience with grant writing, budgeting for a nonprofit, managing a staff and delegating tasks.

Fowler expects to spend several months searching for the right person.

As executive director, McClelland managed operations with a small staff of employees and several medical and lay volunteers to provide healthcare to hundreds of uninsured patients around the area.

During her tenure, she led the organization’s strategic planning process, developed quality improvement initiatives and oversaw efforts for reducing the cost of healthcare delivery to area uninsured.

McClelland expressed her appreciation for being able to serve the community through a statement from the clinic.

“I will cherish the experience and many fond memories of working with so many dedicated professionals, passionate volunteers, and staff,” she stated.

Said Fowler, “We’re all going to miss Vicki very much, and we wish her the very best and her family the very best.”

Contact the free clinic at 301 N. Cameron St., Suite 100, Winchester, VA 22601 or at 540-536-1680.

Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com