Economic hardships in the neighborhood have rendered healthcare relatively inaccessible to many residents, particularly due to its costliness. Still reeling from the devastating effects of the global financial crisis that led to perhaps the largest economic meltdown the United States (US) has experienced in the post-Great Depression era, the neighborhood is currently in dire, if not completely desperate, need for affordable yet quality-driven healthcare. Such could eliminate yet another impending problem its residents currently have – their declining health. Economic productivity greatly decreased in the neighborhood mainly because its residents became increasingly limited in terms of their income, in lieu of the global financial crisis. The foregoing reality compounds to the fact that most of them do not qualify for Medicaid and Medicare and are without any form of health insurance.
One could best attribute the dire economic situation of the neighborhood to the global financial crisis – one that has affected not just the entire United States (US), but also the rest of the world. The sharp decline of the integrity of financial institutions in the US has generated negative economic repercussions worldwide, yet their most tangible effects have emanated from the grassroots level, the neighborhood being a compelling example. Due to the closure of banks, many businesses of different sizes within the neighborhood began to downsize. Such was inevitable, given the devastating effects such has caused unto the capital and savings funds of business owners. As a result, many residents lost their jobs from company layoffs, henceforth tightening the competition in the employment market due to the scarcity of available job positions. Purchasing power consequently plummeted, since many residents lost a sizable amount of their budget due to the pressing economic effects that befell them. Such led to the diminution or even the complete closure of retail-based businesses, whose losses have contributed to the continuation of the dire economic cycle that the neighborhood is currently going through (Beck, 2005; Davenport, 2000).
The stressful effects generated by the global financial crisis to the residents of the neighborhood have inevitably placed much concern on the issue of healthcare. Moreover, the decline in living standards arising from the diminished income sources of residents in the neighborhood has placed healthcare on top of the agenda of the neighborhood council now, hence the establishment of the free clinic. Furthermore, the neighborhood council has taken consideration of the fact that many of the residents have no entitlements under Medicaid, Medicare or any health insurance in establishing the free clinic, which openly accommodates their concerns. After all, it is the firm belief of the neighborhood council that wealth has firm beginnings in good health; hence the mantra “health is wealth” (Beck, 2005; Davenport, 2000).
The neighborhood council designed the free clinic to accommodate all residents of the neighborhood about their various health concerns. A remarkable feature of the free clinic, aside from the fact that it does not command hefty costs associated with regular hospitals and medical centers, is the fact that it accommodates anyone who are not entitled or registered to Medicaid, Medicare or any health insurance. Moreover, the services offered by the free clinic do not deviate from the basic ones provided by regular hospitals and medical centers, given that it provides fundamental treatment for illnesses, injuries and several chronic health circumstances. Furthermore, an important aspect related to the services of the free clinic is its coverage of basic medical checkup needs in dental care, healthcare for women, medical testing and checkups, and drug prescription. Verily, the free clinic established by the neighborhood council seeks to attend to various medical needs that insured and uninsured residents have, without necessitating an immediate visit to regular hospitals and medical centers (Davidson, 2000; Moskowitz et al., 2006).
The establishment of the free clinic by the neighborhood council employs a consortium with the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (NAFCC), which stands as the national cooperating body in the US encouraging the establishment of free clinics nationwide. A key understanding to the employment model of the free clinic involves the role of thoroughly trained volunteer staff working alongside a paid core staff formed by medical doctors and other licensed health specialist. Given that the free clinic does not generate any profit, its revenue base directly comes from the budget the neighborhood council has gathered through taxation. Most of the volunteer positions offered by the free clinic would qualify medical students aspiring to work in regular hospitals and medical centers, as part of their academic practicum program. Such enables them to gain valuable working experiences for the medical profession without any compromises to the quality of their work. The choice for the location of the free clinic, located within the vicinity of the central area of the neighborhood, makes the free clinic accessible to all residents of the neighborhood (Beck, 2005; Davenport, 2000; Moskowitz et al., 2006).
The free clinic is essential for the current needs of the neighborhood to accommodate many of its financially stricken residents, whose curtailed access to quality healthcare reflects their lack of resources and absence of Medicaid, Medicare and health insurance welfares. Designed as a healthcare safety net, the free clinic serves as a crucial component of the goals of the neighborhood council to make all the residents of the neighborhood as healthy as possible. Such has transpired with the knowledge of their current economic hardships denying them of valuable resources essential for accessing healthcare from regular hospitals and medical centers. The free clinic offers its healthcare services free of charge or through a minimal fee, should a resident have sufficient capacity to pay, hence providing residents in the neighborhood a cost-friendly option for keeping their health in check (Beck, 2005; Davenport, 2000; Moskowitz et al., 2006).
The confluence of the economic hardships of the neighborhood and the lack of Medicaid, Medicare and healthcare insurance endowments to certain residents make the establishment of the free clinic an indispensable move for the neighborhood to achieve full recovery. After all, good health is crucial for making people more productive towards economic recovery – a subject that matters most to the current state of affairs characterizing the neighborhood now.
Beck, E. (2005). The UCSD student-run free clinic project: Transdisciplinary health professional education. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 16 (2), 207-219.
Davenport, B. (2000). Witnessing and the medical gaze: how medical students learn to see at a free clinic for the homeless. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 14 (3), 310-327.
Davidson, M. (2000). Effect of a pharmacist-managed diabetes care program in a free medical clinic. American Journal of Medical Quality, 15 (4), 137-142.
Moskowitz, D., Glasco, J., Johnson, B., & Wang, G. (2006). Students in the community: An interprofessional student-run free clinic. Journal of Interprofessional Care, 20 (3), 254-259.