Faithworks Medical – a free clinic – opens in Monroe MI
The following article was on page 1A of Tuesday’s edition of The Monroe Evening News:
A place for healing – New free clinic for working poor launches today
By Charles Slat
Faithworks Medical, a new clinic that provides free medical care to low-income working adults, was to begin seeing its first patients tonight as part of a grassroots effort to fill a gap in Monroe County’s health care continuum.
“Everybody knows somebody who could benefit from this,” said Dr. Susan J. Hulsemann, who with husband, Eric, has spearheaded the effort to start the clinic.
Located within the Elevate Church at 15269 S. Dixie Hwy. in the South Monroe Plaza in Monroe Township, the clinic’s aim is to care for uninsured full- or part-time workers whose incomes are at or below 200 percent of the national poverty level. For a two-person household, that would mean an annual income of $30,260 or less.
Initially, clinic hours will be from 6 to 9 p. m. on Tuesdays. But plans are to expand those hours as its caseload grows and more volunteers support its effort. Those needing care who fit the criteria must make an appointment by calling 770-5504.
Dr. Hulsemann, who operates Dovetail Family Practice in Monroe and is director of Mercy Memorial Hospital System’s family medicine residency program, said it is hoped that the clinic will serve those 19 to 64 who have income, but cannot afford health insurance or to pay medical costs out of pocket.
Children 18 and younger and adults 65 and older usually are covered by state or federal health programs such as Medicaid, MIChild or Medicare. She also acknowledged that other physicians in the Monroe area provide free care, but often it is too infrequent to meet community needs. “ We want to provide continuity, and not episodic care,” she said.
She said the clinic will provide guidance to patients on where to get low-cost generic prescriptions and noted that Mercy Memorial pharmacy has offered to discount prescription costs by 10 percent for Faithworks patients.
In planning the clinic, the Hulsemanns said a needs analysis showed that at least 7,500 people in Monroe County could use the clinic’s services.
Dr. Hulsemann said many part- time workers or those employed at small businesses do not get health care benefits as part of their job. Restaurant servers, she noted, are a group that often do not have insurance and whose tips are considered part of their ever-varying income.
The Hulsemanns, originally from Ottawa, Ontario, said the new Affordable Care Act in the United States probably will not decrease the need for free clinical services in this country. “ We came from Canada and there’s socialized health care there, but there are still people without health health care,” Dr. Hulsemann said. A number of area physicians have indicated a willingness to help staff the new clinic and an incredible number of nurses have stepped up to volunteer, the Hulsemanns said. Those interested in volunteering in any capacity may call Julie Edwards, recruitment coordinator at 384- 4134 or e- mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elevate Church is covering the cost of electric, heating and air conditioning service as well as space. The clinic consists of four exam rooms all furnished with new equipment and counter space built by church members.
The Hulsemanns were enrolled in the Monroe County Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Monroe class, and class members have taken on the clinic as its ongoing project. Class members are providing assistance, guidance and expertise in matters such as marketing, funding, recruitment and training.
“This has been very heartening,” Dr. Hulsemann said. “It’s all fallen together quite well.”
The nonprofit Volunteers in Medicine, a national group, provided assistance to the clinic, and it also received a grant of nearly $ 25,000 from the American Academy of Family Physicians.