Grant Helps Kansas City Free Health Clinic Treat the Uninsured
Obie Austin, MD, treats a patient at the Kansas City Free Health Clinic.
For more than 37 years, the Kansas City Free Health Clinic has been a health care safety net for the working poor in Kansas City, Mo.
“Many of our patients work a couple of jobs, but don’t have health insurance. They can pay their monthly bills, but medical and dental care are unaffordable luxuries,” explains Peg McKee, director of development at the Kansas City Free Health Clinic. “That’s where we come in. Our services are especially important for people who have chronic conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure. Without us, they would have to go without care.”
Free clinics across the country are currently helping to meet the needs of the nearly 50 million Americans who do not have health insurance. The funding for these clinics generally comes from contributions, grants, special events, United Way, and contributed goods and services. As the economic recession continues, the need for free health care will only rise. That is why the American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation is pleased to provide $25,000 in support to the Kansas City Free Health Clinic and to help support 25 others like it across the nation through the Healthy Communities/Healthy America program.
“It is very important for physicians to serve sick patients who cannot afford health care,” says philanthropist Anil Desai, MD, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., who helps support free health clinics through donations to the AMA Foundation.
One patient’s story
Suzette A. Roggentien, an administrator at a pet cemetery who does pet-sitting in her free time, is grateful for the care she is currently receiving from the clinic. “They are very professional, as well as thoughtful and kind. If it wasn’t for the Kansas City Free Health Clinic, I don’t know where I’d be right now,” says Roggentien.
When Roggentien had health insurance three years ago, she visited a variety of physicians and medical specialists to treat the pain in her back and left leg. Unfortunately, no one offered any solutions, and the pain progressed to the point where she lost mobility in her leg and was forced to walk with a cane.
When Roggentien had to drop her $400-monthly health insurance, a friend directed her to the Kansas City Free Health Clinic.
“All I wanted was to get back to living a productive life,” says Roggentien.
In March 2008, Roggentien began treatment with a specialist at the free clinic who was concerned about a previous trauma she had suffered. Medical images were taken, and it was determined that Roggentien needed a hip replacement.
“After years of hearing that nothing could be done, someone finally listened to me. Now I am going to have surgery to correct the problems with my back and leg,” Roggentien says.
The clinic set up appointments with a neurosurgeon and an orthopedic surgeon in addition to securing a reduced rate on the procedure. As she waits for surgery, Roggentien is grateful for the treatment she is receiving through the clinic to help manage her pain.
The AMA Foundation awards $10,000–$25,000 grants to physician-led free clinics through the Healthy Communities/Healthy America program which is supported in part by a generous grant from Pfizer Inc.
Pfizer is proud to support the AMA Foundation in providing quality health care to patients without health insurance, says Cathryn Clary, MD, MBA, vice president of U.S. external medical affairs at Pfizer.
“With the country’s health care system in the midst of transition,” says Dr. Clary, “Now more than ever, programs like Healthy Communities/Healthy America play an invaluable role by filling the gaps in coverage for patients.”