I'm here as Board Chair and Medical Director of the Open Arms Health Clinic in Bellbrook, OH. This is a good group to get to know.
A room pulsing with love and caring is what I sense immediately. We had the welcome by Deb Miller, Executive Director - who knows how to help people know that they matter. Susan Labuda Schrop did the Roll Call covering the whole state of Ohio.
Nicole Lamoureaux, CEO of the National Free and Charitable Clinics spoke of the “Changes in Free and Charitable Clinics Nationally”. Thirty clinics have closed. Six million patient visits annually were increased by 100,000 after the ACA was implemented. Clinic missions changed as the “insured” turned out to be “underinsured” and continued to come to Free clinics. The evolution was from a Free Clinic model to a Charitable Clinic model. Now many have a sliding fee scale, a suggested donation, a free-will donation, Medicaid, Medicare, Private Insurance etc. They remain flexible as the needs change.
Also many have evolved from the Free Clinic Model to a Hybrid Model. Questions asked are “Why aren’t you an FQHC?’, etc. Many opt to avoid the federal connection and remain “Independent”.
Some are wearing multiple hats such as being a FQHC three days per week and a Free Clinic two or three days per week. Mix and match, flex and evolve is the name of the game.
Overall patient demand did not decrease with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The underserved have changed some, but the numbers aren’t diminished.
A lively discussion about variations on populations served and evolving models of care was a who’s who of patient situations in the state of Ohio and an eye opener for those in the jam-packed room. Screening patients for need is common. Honoring the donors was another important fact for the free and charitable clinics in attendance.
EIghty-three percent of the patients are in the workforce nationally. The numbers of veterans seeking care at these clinics has increased. It is painfully obvious that the primary care workforce is woefully inadequate.
Problems: Recruiting Volunteers, Fundraising and Development, Cost of Pharmaceuticals, Primary Care Volunteeer availability, etc.
Send us your stories! Was the last message from Nicole. You give something that our country’s missing. Caring for those in need.