Free Medical Clinic
Free health care is a mission impossible to many nations, especially in developing and under developed countries. But it’s true and real at least in developed economics or the first world. While it’s generally perceived that corruption has made it impossible in virtually all developing or rather third world countries. Therefore, what is a free clinic? A free clinic is a health care facility offering services to economically disadvantaged individuals for free or at a nominal cost. Core staff members may hold full-time paid positions, however, most of the staff a patient will encounter are volunteers drawn from the local medical community.
Care is provided free of cost to persons who have limited incomes, no health insurance and do not qualify for Medicaid or Medicare. To offset costs, some clinics charge a nominal fee to those whose income is deemed sufficient to pay a fee. Many free clinics offer services to under insured individuals; meaning those who have only limited medical coverage. Most free clinics provide treatment for routine illness or injuries; and long-term chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma and high cholesterol. Many also provide a limited range of medical testing, prescription drug assistance, women’s health care, and dental care. Free clinics do not function as emergency care providers, and most do not handle employment related injuries.
Some free clinics specialize in providing primary care, while others focus on long-term chronic health issues, and many do both. Most free clinics start out seeing patients only one or two days per week, and then expand as they find additional volunteers. Because they rely on volunteers, most are only open a few hours per day; primarily in the late afternoon and early evening. Many free clinics are faith-based, meaning they are sponsored by and affiliated with a specific church or religious denomination, or they are interfaith and draw support from several different denominations or religions.
Free clinics rely on donations for financial support. The amount of money they take in through donations to a large degree determines how many patients they are able to see. Because they are unlikely to have the resources to see everyone who might need their help, they usually limit who they are willing to see to just those from their own community and the surrounding areas, and especially in chronic care will only see patients from within a limited set of medical conditions. Free clinics are usually located near the people they are trying to serve. In most cases they are located near other nonprofits that serve the same target community such as food-banks, Head Start, Goodwill Industries, the Salvation Army and public housing.