Eastern Wake: Opinion

Editorial: The changing face of Shepherd’s Care

We were pleased to learn that Shepherd’s Care Medical Clinic, the only free health care clinic in the region, is expanding its services.

A new partnership with CornerStone Family Services will allow the clinic to provide outpatient mental health care, helping to fill a gap that has existed in this region for a longtime.

Mental health care has long played second fiddle in this state and in this region to other kinds of health care. North Carolina’s legislature has done precious little to address the shortfall in services for an exceedingly underrepresented group. And Wake County commissioners, though they’ve addressed needs as they can, have too few resources in a growing county with many other demands for service to adequately make up the system’s shortcomings locally.

This new partnership will give people local entre into the mental health care system and it’s hard to see how that’s anything but good.

The new partnership also stands to change the financial fortunes of Shepherd’s Care, though it is unclear just how much of a difference it will make. Unlike Shepherd’s Care, CornerStone Family Services can bill Medicaid for the services it provides. And while much of that money will go to CornerStone’s bottom line, it seems clear there will be a financial benefit for Shepherd’s Care as well.

The uncertainty of how much the new arrangement will help Shepherd’s Care financially is what prompted Zebulon Town Commissioner Curtis Strickland to ask whether the town needs to continue its practice of providing an annual donation to the organization as part of the budget process. Strickland’s question is not an unreasonable one and he doesn’t seem to be on a tear to limit the town’s support of the agency.

Nevertheless, the town’s policy limits such donations to $1,000 per non-profit, meaning the hit to the town’s bottom line is minimal. And the new partnership doesn’t stop Shepherd’s Care from maintaining its core service of providing health care to the poor. From that perspective, it seems like a sound investment on the town’s part.

We hope, once their questions are answered, Zebulon’s commissioners will see fit to continue their practice of supporting an agency that fills a significant need to the people of Zebulon and the region.