Unemployed flock to clinics

April 2, 2009 3:26:41 PM PDT
For North Carolinians caught in the job crisis, unemployment means little or no health care. Now, hundreds of people are flocking to free and low- cost clinics. And, the clinics are racing to keep up.

"The phone has just been ringing off the hook," said Sean Harrison with Alliance Medical Ministry.

The patients are piling in faster than Alliance can treat them.

"We see 50 new patients each month, and the demand for those far outstrips the 50 available slots," said Harrison.

Harrison says the non-profit clinic and others like it are getting inundated with calls from people who have just lost their jobs and their health insurance. That's on top of hundreds of clients like Thomesha Ravenell who work full-time.

"No health insurance and my kids don't qualify for Medicaid because they say I make too much," she explained.

It can be very expensive to see the doctor if you don't have insurance. Alliance Medical Ministries says their patients pay $10 for a complete visit. Compare that with a visit to the ER that's at least $1,800.

Ravenell says she's still paying for recent trips to the emergency room.

"One dose of Motrin, 40 bucks for my baby boy for a fever," she said.

Those soaring costs are part of the reason the clinic is hiring more staff and expanding services. They hope those who suddenly find themselves uninsured will have a place to go for good health care.

For more about the clinic, go to: http://www.alliancemedicalministry.org/


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