Medical clinics for uninsured brace for new patients, protect hospitals amid COVID-19 pandemic

While some of us are working from home a lot of people are home because they've lost their jobs. And that means they've likely lost medical insurance.

In fact, the North Carolina Association of Free & Charitable Clinics citing this study estimates 300,000 more North Carolinians could become uninsured in the coming months.

"You take for granted things like health insurance until you don't have it. I'm here to tell you that when you don't have it is all of a sudden when you need it," said Ed Henderson, a patient at Alliance Medical Ministry in Raleigh.

He's been a patient for three years since his wife lost her job that included health benefits for both of them.

He found out there are a whole lot of people just like him.

And now thanks to COVID-19 there are now a whole lot more.

FULL CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

Any of them could be people who may now need the services of free and low-cost clinics like Alliance.

"They take care of those people and I believe in what they do. I mean they changed my life. Sometimes I think they saved my life," Henderson said.

Doctors at Alliance helped Henderson get his high blood pressure under control.

Wake County clinic serving lower-income residents transitions to telehealth amid COVID-19 pandemic

Now those doctors are not only helping their patients avoid going to the hospital and exposing themselves to the coronavirus, they are also helping all of us by keeping space at the hospitals open for COVID-19 patients.

"Keeping our patients out protects them and then it also helps the hospitals. They have plenty to deal with right now," Dr. Sheryl Joyner told ABC11.

Joyner is one of the physicians at Alliance who is now seeing patients by telemedicine. And that presents another problem.

They usually charge patients a nominal fee based on their income but telemedicine has no option for billing. So money is especially tight right now.

RELATED: Coronavirus pandemic pushes doctors to utilize telemedicine to help patients

"I would encourage anyone that can make contributions at this time. I think that what we do here is important for our patients but it's also important for our community," Joyner said while pointing out that her ability to help patients depends on the kindness of individuals and organizations who fund free and low-cost clinics statewide.

Patient Ed Henderson is encouraging donations too.

"A lot of people who are hard-working residents of this county wouldn't get the medical care they needed. And I think that any donation you make to this ministry is a donation that's going to help all of us, it's going to help our community," he said.

You can help at this critical time by going to the website for Alliance Medical Ministry or the North Carolina Association of Free & Charitable Clinics.
Copyright © 2020 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.