To many people, the only healthcare they ever receive comes from a local “Free Clinic”. If you are insured or make a nice comfortable living perhaps you’ve never seen one up close or know much about them. A Free Clinic is more than a low or no cost healthcare facility. Free Clinics are parts of organizations that provides the low or no cost healthcare to people with limited resources, mainly fueled by volunteers, and who are committed to shrinking the patient to quality care red tape. Free Clinics have widespread community ties with financial support. With free or low cost healthcare, the health of the community members can increase, mortality decrease, and the environment for the other city patrons bettered. Free Clinics aren’t a pox upon the city it serves, it doesn’t “spotlight” the city’s poverty level, and it doesn’t become the local drug hangout. There are some bad stereotypes that go along with Free Clinics, especially in the South, stereotypes that just aren’t true.
Many Georgia medical personnel and facilities volunteer their time and effort to Free Clinics. These doctors, nurses, and lab workers are people that truly believe that the welfare of the patient outweighs the bottom line of their prosperous practice. In this philosophy, the GFCN was created. The Georgia Free Clinic Network was designed to “unite for a health Georgia”. They want to foster growth and develop free clinics to improve the accessibility of healthcare to the people who need it most, those in low income families.
Free Clinics have a huge Georgia impact. There are estimates that over 90,000 Georgians were seen in 2004. That is 90,000 people who would otherwise not have seen a medical professional, possibly spreading disease and illness to others. Those 90,000 patients are representative of the combined population of 18 rural counties in Georgia. In fact, the Georgia State Auditor has estimated that 10-20% of all uninsured care throughout the state of Georgia occurs within Free Clinics. (Source: Fiscal Note: HB 1272)
Free Clinics usually have a cost of around $3,300 per patient each year and its been estimated that between $200 million and $400 million worth of healthcare is delivered by Free Clinics each and every year, just in Georgia alone.
The Georgia Free Clinic Network is partnered with several companies.
National Association of Free Clinics
Center for Health Transformation
Georgia Pharmacy Association
Avanti Solutions Corporation
Partnership of Caring
Georgia Association of Health Plans