Volunteering at free health clinic carries on a century-old tradition
For Page Henley, volunteering at the Northern Neck Free Health Clinic is a way to keep up a family tradition – one that many in the area knew well and consider invaluable.
Page Henley (left) is the grandson of Dr. Chichester Peirce, who practiced medicine locally for 64 years. Dr. Peirce later partnered with Dr. Jiggs Tingle, whose son, Dr. Rocky Tingle (right) carries on as a medical provider in Lively and at the Northern Neck Free Health Clinic, where Henley is also a volunteer.
Henley, a retired attorney and corporate executive, has known the Northern Neck all his life, largely through his grandfather, Dr. Chichester T. Peirce, who spent more than six decades practicing medicine out of his office in upper Lancaster County. Not that his practice was confined there: Dr. Peirce held office hours twice a day, made house calls in between and some evenings through much of Lancaster, Richmond and Northumberland counties, and worked even during vacations.
From 1900 until his death in 1964, Henley said, Dr. Peirce “took care of anyone, regardless of whether they could pay. He never sent a bill.” Race didn’t matter either. Patients, both black and white, generally were not affluent and worked either the land or water, or both, to get by. Sometimes oysters or ducks were left for him as payment. On the flip side, Dr. Peirce, who loved to garden, regularly parked his wheelbarrow stuffed with produce by his office, with instructions – and expectations – that it be empty by the end of the day.