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Archive for Thursday, March 4, 2004

Health Care Access clinic treats its 10,000th patient

Group serves uninsured not eligible for Medicaid

March 4, 2004

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If it weren't for Health Care Access, Karen Singer says she'd be dead now.

"I'd be in a grave," she said. "Either that or I'd have had a stroke or a heart attack or lost at least one limb."

Singer, 56, is both diabetic and uninsured. Until last November, she was a sorority "house mom" at Baker University.

She gave up her job after her diabetes caused her to faint twice without warning. The second time, a hot clothes iron landed on her arm.

"It was a third-degree burn -- it went clear to the muscle," Singer said. "I had to have a skin graft and go to physical therapy."

Because she didn't have health insurance, she turned to Health Care Access, 1920 Moodie Road, for care.

"They made sure all my needs were met," Singer said. "They were wonderful."

Singer spent part of Wednesday morning at Health Care Access, helping the nonprofit clinic commemorate its 10,000th patient.

The clinic recorded its 10,000th patient last Thursday, said Nikki King, the clinic's executive director. She said the clinic has had about 41,000 appointments, an average of about four per patient.

Health Care Access limits its caseload to patients who are uninsured and are not eligible for government-funded programs such as Medicaid, Indian health clinics and veterans hospitals.

Most of the clinic's patients are either unemployed or working low-pay jobs.

King said the clinic's caseload continued to increase in keeping with "the economy being down, people losing their jobs and more and more workers not having access to health insurance."

Also, she said, the clinic has seen an increase in the number of children not covered by HealthWave, the state's insurance program for children in low-income families.

"What happens is that after a year, HealthWave families are not automatically renewed and a lot of them end up getting dropped," King said. "We're also seeing children who are not eligible for HealthWave because their parents are not U.S. citizens."

Children now account for 6 percent of the clinic's caseload, King said.

The biggest growth has been in the clinic's prescription drug program.

"Three years ago, we got the pharmaceutical companies to donate $20,000 in prescription drugs," King said. "We're at $500,000 a year now."

Last year, Lawrence Memorial Hospital and more than 70 doctors provided $1.7 million in free services to Health Care Access patients.

"And it just keeps growing," King said. "It's amazing."

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