Our History

Community Free Health Clinic has provided nearly 500,000 free medical, dental, vision, and prescription services to more than 50,000 uninsured and underinsured people in the greater Cedar Rapids community.

Learn how our organization has grown and served our community over the years.

1990s: Our Story Begins

In 1992, the Cedar Rapids Free Medical Clinic (CRFMC) opened its doors to see patients for a few hours two evenings a month. By the time a year had passed, it had seen and treated 126 patients at no cost.

The team of bootstrapping volunteers were finally seeing their dream realized. They had found a way to provide free care for their neighbors in need.

The clinic grew, and needed a more permanent staff to meet the needs of our community. Darlene Schmidt became clinic director in 1995. It was the first paid position within the organization and it led to myriad organizational changes for a clinic that was growing by leaps and bounds with each passing year.

2002: Founding CHFC

In 2002, Darlene, along with Dr. Galbraith, started Community Health Free Clinic as a way to seek broader community support for the uninsured.

That same year, The Hall­-Perrine Foundation wanted to do something special for the Cedar Rapids community in commemoration of its 50th birthday. Typically, the foundation provides grants for 50% of a project, and requires the grant applicant to match the donation. But for this 50th birthday celebration, the Foundation elected to donate the entire $1,480,000 needed to build, equip, and furnish a new clinic facility.

In another grand collaboration, leaders at Jane Boyd and Four Oaks offered land adjacent to Jane Boyd Community House in the Oakhill Jackson neighborhood. Ryan Companies built the facility at cost.

2004: Our Building Opens

In February 2004, our beautiful new building stood tall, ready to serve those with nowhere else to turn for medical, dental, and prescription services.

2007: Eye Clinic Added

In 2007, we added an eye clinic to care for people with symptoms of eye disease.

2011: Administrative Facility Added

In 2011, a generous donor gift allowed us to purchase a second facility to host the growing Prescription Assistance Program and administrative support staff.

2020: Weathering a Pandemic and Natural Disaster

2020 was a very different year than anyone anticipated. From a pandemic to a hurricane-strength windstorm, our community went through a lot. Through these crises, our staff and volunteers continued to care for the most vulnerable in the community—even when our clinic was without power for more than a week.