Mark Heffington, M.D., FAAFP
February 18, 2015
A generous physician, committed to patient treatment at free clinics throughout the state
Dr. Mark Heffington practices as a contract physician at MERCI Clinic, a free clinic in New Bern, NC. He is also a contract physician for QTC Medical Services, providing disability determination examinations for military veterans. Previously he practiced family medicine in Cashiers, NC for 27 years. He earned his M.D. at the University of Tennessee Center for the Health Sciences in Memphis, TN. Dr. Heffington completed a Family Medicine residency at Roanoke Memorial Hospitals in Roanoke, VA.
Why Dr. Heffington was nominated:
- His working history is all about free medical clinics because his focus is the patient’s care.
- He understands the challenges his patients face: being uninsured; not being able to work; unable to have reliable transportation or phones; living in a foreign country and not speaking the language; and being from another culture that views health care in a much different manner.
- In 2014, Dr. Heffington was the recipient of the Don Lucey Award given by the North Carolina Association of Free Clinics.
- He is known for being calm and taking the challenges of a free clinic in stride – offering a smile, a joke, or saying “that’s just the way it is.”
He is just as comfortable with the migrant farmer with whom he fluently converses in Spanish as he is with the very educated family provider who has just lost his job, his health insurance – and most likely his dignity. Dr. Heffington deeply understands the challenges and emotional difficulties that our patients face.”
In Dr. Heffington’s own words:
What does being a doctor mean to you?
Being able to help people in a significant way and at the same time, doing something interesting and challenging and fun.”
Can you tell us about your community involvement or volunteer work?
In 2001, I co-founded and served as a physician (volunteer and then contracted) for Vecinos, Inc. Farmworker Health Program from 2001 to 2013 – providing free mobile medical services to migrant and seasonal farmworkers. In 2005, I founded the Community Care Clinic in Highlands, NC. I started volunteering at the MERCI Clinic in 2009 and then when they needed someone full-time, they brought me on as the on-site doctor. I also volunteer at Hope Clinic (Pamlico County) and Broad Street Clinic (Carteret County).”
How would you use the award money?
I’d split it 5 ways between MERCI Clinic, Hope Clinic, Broad Street Clinic, Community Care Clinic and Vecinos Migrant Health in Jackson County. These places can use every dollar they can get from their neighbors.”