There’s a myth that only destitute people coming from extreme poverty use free and charitable clinics. The truth is that free and charitable clinic patients include people just like you. They are moms, dads, teachers, neighbors, college graduates, and more. These are often working families who are simply struggling to make ends meet. Many patients are simply regular folks who do not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid yet can’t afford the high cost of private insurance. Free clinics provide them with a lifeline. In addition, many free clinics patients previously held employer-sponsored health insurance but may have lost it in the wake of the pandemic.
Whoever you are, whatever your current situation, free and charitable clinics are here to provide quality care regardless of your ability to pay.
After losing her husband four years ago, Christine found herself in a very precarious situation – without a job and without employer-sponsored health insurance. Fortunately she was able to get the medical care and support she needed at her local free clinic. A short while later, Christine got back on her feet and landed a job with health insurance benefits. But sadly, as is the case for so many hardworking Virginians, she lost that job in the wake of the pandemic and through no fault of her own, found herself once again without insurance. Like before, her local free clinic was there for her in a time of need. In this video, Christine talks about her initial hesitation to reach out to the free clinic. But after taking that initial step and asking for the help she needed, she soon realized that nothing was further from the truth. She says: “The care is top notch. They provided me with blood pressure medication and set me up for a mammogram, and it felt just like going to any doctor’s office.” Christine talks about how free clinics are a comfort and safety net – how when you have a medical issue, you aren’t out of luck or forced to go to an expensive emergency room.
“Initially, I had a hesitation to go to a free clinic. I thought people might look down on me. But after coming in for blood pressure medication, I walked out feeling great. It felt like going to my regular doctor. The care and treatment I received was excellent.”
For most of her adult life, Deborah had little to no access to medical care. When she suddenly became ill, she didn’t know what to do as she lacked medical insurance. Enter Chesapeake Care – a free clinic. Together with a network of specialists, Deborah’s care team diagnosed her with Hepatitis C, high blood pressure, and an iron deficiency that would require regular treatment including expensive iron infusions. Through ongoing care, Deborah is now healthy and employed. She says, “I would not be up and walking around, able to care for myself, or hold down a job if it wasn’t for Chesapeake Care and their wonderful staff and volunteers.”
After finding himself unemployed after a long and successful career in sales and with his savings running low, John was diagnosed with Guillain–Barré syndrome – a rare and serious autoimmune disorder that attacks the nervous system. Hospitalized for over a month, he eventually found his way to the Arlington Free Clinic where he received care for multiple health issues and, in time, regained his strength. After returning to good health, John is now able to give back to free clinics by serving as a volunteer and donor. “I never expected to need free health care, but I shudder to think where I’d be without the Clinic.”
Cheryl is a hardworking server in the restaurant industry, yet she doesn’t make enough money to meet all her basic needs and afford health insurance. In a difficult period of her life, Cheryl experienced sudden and dramatic weight loss and at one point weighed just 90 pounds. She got the help she needed at the Augusta Regional Clinic, despite the fact that she lacked insurance. Today Cheryl is healthier than she’s been in years. She says: “I love my job and my customers. Without the medical care I needed at the time, I would have lost it all.”
Melanie lacked employer-sponsored health insurance and lived paycheck to paycheck. In fact, she went without coverage for most of her adult life getting by with over-the-counter meds and urgent care facilities. Until suddenly she couldn’t. Worried she was having a heart attack, her sister recommended she seek care at Western Tidewater Free Clinic (WTFC). The team at WTFC diagnosed her high blood pressure and was able to provide her with medication to alleviate her symptoms. Also, the clinic got her into their dental programs and referred her out for necessary specialty care. Melanie immediately felt valued and in and good hands. She adds, “it’s great that people care, and I’m blessed to find WTFC.”