21-year-old Grady Garner of Lansing is uninsured. That's why he's gone for a check-up at Care Free Medical located on South Pennsylvania Avenue in Lansing. It's a free clinic, staffed primarily by volunteers, that opened just a week ago.
"I can have no job, no money and I can just come in. I don't have to put no insurance down," says Garner.
"The fact of the matter is there's a large number of people that go unserved in terms of medical care," says Clinic Director Dr. Barry Saltman.
In our area an estimated 65,000 people are living below the poverty level. That's according to the U-S Census Bureau. The highest number is in Ingham County followed by Jackson County.
"I think most men and women who go into healthcare go in with the idea they want to serve. You look around and see the need. I'm fortunate enough to be in good health and be able to help some people, so why not?" explains Dr. Saltman.
Medical Director Dr. Steven Dupuis says, "There are very few dentists who are able to take new patients or emergency procedures. So Dr. Saltman, sort of a natural extension of free care, decided to try to offer free dental care."
Construction on the free dental clinic, located downstairs from the medical clinic, is underway. It's expected to open by the first of June.
"We're going to have five dental operatories, and if we can have enough volunteers to staff two dentists at a time we should be able to see at least 2,000-3,000 in a course of a year," says Dental Director Dr. John Brewster.
And thousands, like Garner, are thankful for the free medical care.
"I'm here. It's open. I got checked out. It's great."