Growing Need For Free Clinics

By: Lauren Evans Email
By: Lauren Evans Email

Brenda McVay doesn't have health insurance.

"Like a lot of people, we can't afford it," McVay says.

So she relies on a free clinic in Lansing, to get the care she needs.
With unemployment above 15 percent in Michigan, she's not alone.

"Demand is in one word: overwhelming," says Dr. Barry Saltman, founder and C.E.O. of Care Free Medical and Dental Clinic in Lansing.

He's seen the need for free medical care skyrocket.

"My staff is telling me 'My gosh, people are calling,'" Saltman says. "We get 10,12,15 phone calls a day."

When Dr. Saltman's first clinic opened in Mason five and a half years ago, he saw less than a hundred patients.

Today, Care Free treats 5500 people.

"We have seen an increasing number of not just the neediest in our community, but those men and women who have families, who have jobs, who just plain can't afford health care," Saltman says.

Those uninsured people who go without treatment, end up in emergency rooms, says Mark Cook, V.P. of Governmental Affairs for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

That's why the company awarded nearly $100,000 in grants Thursday to five mid-Michigan free clinics.

"They really provide a critical part of the health care safety net," Cook explains.

One that caught Brenda McVay four years ago.

"I don't know where I would be without Care Free," she says. "I would probably have to make a choice of, seriously, eating or getting my medications."

She calls the free clinic, a Godsend.

Care Free extended its hours last week to accommodate an influx in patients. The clinic is looking for doctors and health professionals willing to volunteer their time.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Jim Location: Hillsdale county,Michigan on Nov 9, 2009 at 05:58 AM
    Yes free clinics help so much.They are full each day open.You wait and wait to be seen by a doctor.These clinic help stop illnesses from spreading.Many help with medications and get you into the right programs to help.If the government keeps cutting things to the poor many more clinics and things will have to open to help,those in need.Many don't understand what poverty is like till they get there.The problem is many more will.We have 1 clinic in hillsdale county.Many living out in rural communities can't even get there.Like most of Mi we need jobs.So many things set empty.HOMES AND FACTORIES.
  • by Sandi on Nov 5, 2009 at 12:57 PM
    If you have a medical condition and no insurance, you already know how hard it is on your wallet, doctor vists are Not cheap and medicine can take up to a weeks or more income to pay for it. Now to add insult to injury you are out of work living on nothing, and not only do you not have insurance you have no money. Thank God for the free clinics in Lansing, the Doctors and Nurses who donate their time. People could die but for these places. You pay what you can and if you have nothing they expect nothing. These people are truly angels of Mercy!
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