HARTFORD, Conn., Jan. 15 The future of health care is being negotiated in the nation's capital, but people struggling with the lack of health insurance will soon get much-needed help in Connecticut's capital when the National Association of Free Clinics (NAFC) holds its next C.A.R.E. Clinic in Hartford on Feb. 3.
This will be the fifth in a series of large, mostly one-day C.A.R.E. (Communities Are Responding Everyday) Clinics held around the country to bring together physicians and other health care professionals, as well as non-medical volunteers, to serve the needs of thousands of people who might otherwise go without medical care.
"Many people are forced to make tough choices between putting food on the table or paying rent on the one hand and getting needed medical treatment on the other," NAFC Executive Director Nicole Lamoureux said. "As long as affordable health insurance is not available for everyone, there will be a great need for the work that more than 1,200 free clinics across the country do every day. We hold large C.A.R.E. Clinics not only to provide immediate care to many uninsured people but also to connect them with the free clinics and other safety-net providers that can offer them care on an ongoing basis."
The C.A.R.E. Clinic on Feb. 3 will be held at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford from noon until 7:00 p.m. Care for a wide range of medical issues will be available at no cost to participants. More than 11 percent of the non-elderly residents of Connecticut do not have health insurance.
"It is important to note that being uninsured is not the same as being unemployed," Lamoureux said. "About 83 percent of uninsured people have jobs. At past C.A.R.E. Clinics, we found that many of the patients worked at two or more jobs but did not receive health insurance benefits. Some even worked as nurses or for insurance companies but still did not have insurance themselves."
During 2009, C.A.R.E. Clinics treated more than 1,700 uninsured patients in Houston, more than 1,000 in New Orleans and more than 1,000 in Little Rock at one-day clinics and almost 2,300 in Kansas City at a two-day clinic. At those events, more than 90 percent of the patients had three or more life-threatening conditions, such as cardio-vascular disease, hypertension, diabetes and pulmonary disease. Most of them either did not go anywhere previously for medical care or went to hospital emergency rooms. Many had not been examined by physicians in more than five years or in even more than 10 years.
The C.A.R.E. Clinics are made possible by hundreds of medical and non-medical volunteers. Medical volunteers needed for the Hartford clinic include doctors of medicine, doctors of osteopathy, nurse practitioners, physician's assistants, registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses, emergency medical technicians, medical administrators, licensed clinical social workers and more. Non-medical volunteers are needed to help with documentation, logistical support, patient intake and translation, as well as to be patient greeters and escorts. Help also is needed for setting up the clinic, as well as breaking it down.
Information for volunteers and patients is available online at http://www.regonline.com/ctcare, as well as at http://freeclinics.us. Patients also can call 877-233-5159 to make appointments.
SOURCE National Association of Free Clinics