Darlene Schmidt, Community Health Free Clinic’s amazing leader, has asked me to tell you of some recent developments – both celebratory and worrisome – in bringing basic primary medical and dental care to our community’s uninsured, underinsured and underserved. Growing effort by volunteers and your support as contributors is making a major difference for 11,000 people. This message gives me the opportunity, on behalf of the Clinic’s board of directors and its special advisors, to warmly thank each of you for your role toward continuing success in our mission.
The Clinic has numerous things to celebrate since the last Annual Report was circulated. I choose two to report. First, consider the “Birdies that Care” campaign. Thanks to the collaboration of PGATour professional golfer Zach Johnson and AEGON USA, a fund for special medical needs of children was celebrated last December. A total of $91,000 was raised through the gifts of many. Board Advisors Bill Quinby and Dr. Dennis Boatman were leaders in the Clinic’s efforts to match gifts from Zach and Kim Johnson and AEGON USA. Donations were based on the number of birdies and eagles scored by Zach on the year long 2005 PGATour. Secondly, a new 65 space parking facility has been completed due to efforts of the former Cedar Rapids City Council. It is built on City Parks Department land, adjacent to the Clinic. Too, this parking lot will significantly ease parking pressure for neighbor organizations: Jane Boyd Community House, Bender Pool and Metro High School. The project contractor, L. L. Pelling Company, and the Clinic each contributed toward the cost of construction.
Worrisome developments center on the growing number of uninsured patients who utilize Clinic services. In January 2006 alone, 1,518 individual patients received 2,686 services. These patients came from 87 zip codes. Due to concern and confusion surrounding the new Medicare part D prescription program, an increased number of patients over age 65 are turning to the Clinic for help obtaining needed medication. Of all patients served by the Prescription Assistance Program in January, 13% (92 patients) were over age 65. Concerned by steady growth in number of patients encountered in 2004-2005, the board of directors held a special meeting to study trends. Barriers to continue services were identified. The most significant barrier was the limited number of professional providers available, especially volunteer physicians, dentists and pharmacists. Operating cost funding must keep pace too. Limiting access to care is not a satisfactory option!
I have often been asked what support the two Cedar Rapids hospitals give the Clinic. The answer is ongoing, generous and increasing support with gifts in kind! In the last fiscal year the hospitals contributed a combined $336,000 worth of laboratory tests, x-rays, printing, information technology, meeting facility and other gifts. The hospitals are true collaborators in care.
In closing, all the 500+ active volunteers, staff and 11,000 patients using Community Health Free Clinic would want to join in thanking each of you who truly care about and support the Clinic’s work with your gifts: dollars, in-kind gifts and time. Please continue to help!
William B. Galbraith, MD
Volunteer and President, Board of Directors.
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Mission: To provide Medical and Dental care to the uninsured and under-served
of East Central Iowa through model Community Partnerships.
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