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      Low-cost health clinic forced to close

      The Agape Clinic in Belle will close on October 1.

      A low-cost health services clinic in Belle will close its doors on October 1.

      The Agape Clinic, located right off Highway 89, has been serving underinsured or uninsured people in the community for five and a half years.

      "Many of them have employment, but within the employment they either do no provide healthcare insurance or the employee cannot afford it," Margie Lange, the nurse practitioner running the Agape Clinic said.

      The clinic survives solely on donations, only asking customers to give a $10 donation after they have been seen.

      But Missouri law mandates a collaberative practice arrangement between a nurse practitioner and a family physician in order for the clinic to operate.

      "The physician that I was in agreement with sold his practice to one of the local hospitals. The hospital decided to discontinue our agreement for liability reasons," Lange said.

      Despite exhaustive efforts, she has been unable to find a new physician to fill the void, forcing the clinic to close.

      "When this place is closed down, I'm kind of...I have no where else to go," Justin Flower, a patient at the clinic, said while shaking his head.

      "We're kind of just out there not really knowing what to do other than just searching for other places...that could help us," Melvina Hobbs, another patient said.

      Lange plans to continue searching for physician so the clinic will be able to reopen.

      She urges all of her patients to keep in touch with her.