My late wife, Consuelo, loved her volunteer work at FISH's Ross Medical Clinic, and she loved the people she worked with. That's why I was pleased and proud to attend a well-deserved public tribute to Dr. Rex Baggett and the clinic at the Carson Nugget last weekend.
Dr. Baggett, who has headed the Ross Clinic since 2004, was gracious enough to mention Consuelo among the many volunteers who have served patients there since it was established by the late Dr. Charlie Ross in 1993. Consuelo was one of the first of "Charlie's Angels," a term coined by former FISH (Friends in Service Helping) Director Monte Fast to describe women who volunteered at the clinic.
Current FISH Director Jim Peckham told a crowd of about 300 people that the Ross Clinic takes care of more than 1,000 low-income patients each year, providing them with basic medical care and free prescriptions. He praised Dr. Baggett for many years of selfless community service following his "retirement" in 2004. Actually, the good doctor is probably busier now than he was during his 34-year internal medicine practice.
Dr. Baggett's front-line collaborators have included pediatricians Pat Gunn and Brian Hall, nurse practitioner Kelly Fluitt, and office assistants Joan Papianni, Lynn Hunter and Maizie Harris Jessie.
Following the untimely death of Dr. Ross in 1998, the late Dr. William King, who was in ill health, ran the clinic until Dr. Baggett took over in 2004. Dr. King's dedicated team included the aforementioned Ms. Papianni, nurse practitioner Carol Read-Anderson, registered nurses Lois Gilbert and Nancy Juneau, and Spanish-speaking assistant Consuelo Farmer, who looked up to Dr. King as a father figure. He, like Dr. Baggett, took a personal interest in the lives of his patients and his co-workers. Together, they and their fellow volunteers define and honor the term "community service." They've treated thousands of needy patients over the years and have undoubtedly saved a few lives along the way.
I admire and support FISH partly because it doesn't depend upon government (taxpayer) funding. Overall, the organization receives only about 5 percent of its total budget from governments. Imagine what our city's budget would look like if we had to pay for all of the indigent medical care that the Ross Clinic provides. Instead, local churches and businesses, civic-minded citizens and Carson Tahoe Hospital keep the clinic going with financial support and donations of medications and medical supplies. At last weekend's event I learned that many local doctors cooperate with the clinic by donating supplies, surplus equipment, and professional advice and services.
Dr. Baggett has said that Charlie Ross "was the reason why a lot of doctors go into medicine. He just wanted to help people and not worry about the other stuff." We could say the same thing about him, Dr. King, and all of the other medical professionals and citizen volunteers who have kept the Ross Clinic alive in good times and in bad. God bless them.
• Guy W. Farmer has been a Carson City resident since 1962.
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