After years of experience as a paramedic and then a registered nurse, and then working in this capacity in the local emergency room, I noticed about 80% of patients were utilizing the emergency room for basic medical care that could have been provided in a doctor’s office. Many had no health insurance and no primary doctor. Others had large deductibles and were unable to pay. Too many could not afford medicine and conditions worsened due to noncompliance with discharge orders because they were unable to purchase needed medications upon release. Daily, we saw painful dental emergencies and had nowhere to send patients for low-cost basic dental care.
Many counties have clinics to help address these needs, but ours does not. Through further research, I found out that Ohio and Switzerland counties, neighboring counties to my county of Dearborn, are ranked 91 and 92 out of Indiana’s 92 counties for access to both physicians and hospital care, with other local counties such as Franklin and Ripley, not far behind. With the uncertainty of the future of healthcare, I felt the time to act was now.
My research into starting a clinic has lead me to Volunteers in Medicine. VIM is a nonprofit organization that helps establish free clinics across the US. Their model utilizes an all-volunteer medical staff and operates with a low overhead made possible by grants and charitable contributions. I have had overwhelming support from area providers, local leaders, and social service agencies regarding this deeply needed community health center. This clinic will serve Dearborn, Ohio, and Switzerland counties, by filling a hole in the social service network that assists working families whom are still struggling, despite doing everything right.