Virginia’s free and charitable clinics have worked tirelessly to foster diversity, equity, and inclusion in all they do and provide healthcare services that also address social and economic drivers of poor health. Clinics are culturally sensitive organizations, serving patients from a wide spectrum of ethnicities and backgrounds. It is not one size fits all medicine. The clinics take a whole person approach and treat every patient who walks through the door as a human being and unique individual. We look beyond medicine – even going so far as making sure a patient has the transportation necessary to get to an appointment. At free clinics, the focus is on addressing all of the factors, including social and economic factors, that may impact a person’s health.
It is a fact that communities of color are more likely to lack access to medical care, affordable housing, healthy food, and transportation. Those factors, along with many others, disproportionately impact the health of black and brown communities. And clinics play a pivotal role in reducing health disparities in these and other underserved communities across the state.
Clinics serve as an efficient and high-quality medical home base for individuals who either lack or cannot afford health insurance. This has never been more evident than during the COVID-19 pandemic. The emergence of COVID-19 has led to an unprecedented surge of patients needing healthcare service and often lacking the means to afford it. Free clinics are here always to provide that safety net and deliver care to those who might otherwise go without. And when chronic illness or other medical issues remain unmanaged or untreated, people are often left with an expensive emergency room visit as their only option for care.
“We know that there are great disparities and inequities in our healthcare system. The COVID crisis has really highlighted the disparities in access to care and the consequences of not having access to care in the Hispanic and the African American communities,” – Sally Graham, Nurse Practitioner, Clinic Executive