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      Low-cost health clinic will reopen

      The Agape Clinic in Belle will reopen February 13. It closed October 1.

      A low-cost health clinic in Belle that had to close its doors in October will reopen February 13.

      The Agape Clinic provides services for the uninsured and underinsured, only asking for a $10 donation at the end of the appointment.

      Missouri law mandates that clinics operating under a nurse practitioner, like Agape, have a collaborative practice agreement with a physician within a 50-mile radius.

      "They delegate their prescriptive authority to the nurse practitioner and also they provide some oversight, in that they are required to review 10 percent of the charts," Agape's nurse practitioner Margie Lange said.

      Agape's previous physician had sold his practice, and his new employer discontinued the agreement.

      Despite exhaustive efforts to find a new physician, Lange was unable to find one.

      "In the time that we were closed I had been contacted by several people. And it's a very empty feeling not to be able to help them," Lange said.

      Then, in early December Lange's luck changed.

      Dr. Kathi Clement, a physician at Mercy Urgent Care Clinic in Rolla, read about Agape in a local newspaper. After months working through the process with her employer, she was able to enter the agreement.

      "Rural Americans need to have healthcare choices but not necessarily have to pay an extreme amount of money. And this is certainly an option for the working poor to come to receive good care," Dr. Clement said.

      "I wish there were more of these, and more Margies," she added.

      The clinic is located at 103 North Alvarado Avenue, just off Highway 89, in Belle. It will be open Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and no appointments are needed.