Dr. Tracee Laing arrived at the Licking County Community Health Care Clinic, or as it is often referred to as the Community Health Clinic, after graduating from Ohio State University College of Medicine in 1992 and completing a family practice residency at Mt. Carmel Health in 1995. She started her Granville Medical Practice upon graduation.
As a resident, Laing would volunteer at Columbus homeless shelters. She wanted to continue her volunteer efforts near home after completing her residency.
“As a resident, I worked evenings at Cherry Westgate Family Practice and learned of the Community Health Clinic,” Laing said. “At that time, it was in the basement of the old Children’s Home on East Main Street in Newark, with pipes that made lots of noise, and was less glamorous than it is in the current location.”
The Licking County Community Health Care Clinic, a non-profit and member of the Ohio Association of Free Clinics, is located within the Metropolitan Housing Administration building at 144 West Main Street in Newark. The clinic serves adults without health insurance.
Laing has volunteered at the clinic on Wednesdays for 26 years and is now retiring.
“Just as in private practice, it’s the relationships that you develop that are important — relationships with patients and staff you get to know and work with through the years,” she said.
She observed that the greatest needs of the patients at the clinic are “basic primary healthcare and access to mental healthcare.”
Outside the clinic, Laing donates her time as founding director of the Healing Art Missions, a non-profit collaborating with rural Haitians by connecting communities to fundamental rights of healthcare, clean water, education and employment. An all-Haitian employed community health clinic is their biggest project, providing more than 13,000 patient visits a year. The organization’s work is committed to fostering the dignity of the individual, and respecting the ways of the community.
She has also volunteered at the Market Street Food Pantry in Newark, and works for several political groups to turn out voters, combat dark money and promote fair districting.
This summer, Laing plans to do more gardening.
“I’m happiest with my hands in the dirt,” she said.
She and her husband have a new family member Nia, an 18-year-old Haitian refugee who will graduate from high school this year and go to college in the fall. When Nia moves out, Laing will start painting again.
She will always be a part of the Healing Art Missions. The Haitian communities she began working in 1997 are filled with family and friends. When asked about leaving the clinic, she said, “I hope I helped people, who would otherwise have had a difficult time accessing health care — that was my reason for being there.”
This article originally appeared on Newark Advocate: Doctor retires after 26 years volunteering at Community Health Clinic