A Charitable clinic is a private, nonprofit, community-based organization that provides highly subsidized medical care at little or no charge to low-income, uninsured and underinsured persons through the use of volunteer health care professionals, and partnerships with other health providers. As the clinics grow they will often add paid staff.
The majority of the patients seen at charitable clinics are employed, part-time or full-time, are between the ages of 18 and 64 and are uninsured for primary care, specialty care, oral health care, and behavioral health care. The exact services offered by a charitable clinic vary based upon the resources available. For the most part, patients seen at a charitable clinic have one or more chronic illness. The most common chronic illnesses seen are diabetes, hypertension, depression, heart conditions, asthma, and arthritis.
Charitable clinics launched with ECHO consultation are committed to providing quality health care services, utilizing commonly-accepted practice protocols wherever possible. The clinic will deliver its services in a clean and well-organized space using the most up-to-date equipment that resources or donations will permit. Understanding the most effective way to treat chronic illnesses, the clinic will facilitate access to prescription medications for those clinic patients who need them. Free or low-cost medications are acquired through multiple different ways including prescribing generic drugs available on local pharmacy low-cost formularies, utilizing drug companies’ medication assistance programs, and voucher programs.
There are approximately 1200 charitable clinics nationwide.
The following are common characteristics of charitable clinics:
No two charitable clinics are alike. They are custom-designed by communities to meet identified health care needs using the community’s unique health care assets and resources. Charitable clinics are governed by volunteer Boards of Directors representing a broad cross-section of the community.
Charitable clinics are private, nonprofit organizations supported primarily by cash and in-kind contributions from the private sector although health care reform has caused many clinics to explore taking 3rd party payments such as Medicaid.
Volunteerism is a central feature of charitable clinics. Charitable clinic services are provided primarily or exclusively by volunteer health care professionals serving in the clinic’s own facility and/or in their own private practice setting. Lay volunteers also perform a variety of administrative and clerical tasks thus keeping overhead costs low.
TARGET LOW-INCOME, UNINSURED AND UNDERINSURED ADULTS
In most states this is the population that has the greatest difficulty accessing affordable health care services. While eligibility criteria vary from one to the next, most charitable clinics conduct rigorous eligibility screening to ensure that the patients they serve are truly in need.
Charitable clinics place strong emphasis on providing non-judgmental, non-discriminatory, compassionate care, respecting the dignity and self-worth of every patient.
Many charitable clinics are faith based and feel that you can’t heal the body without healing the mind. Most of these clinics provide opportunities for the patient to pray with their providers and usually have staff available to provide spiritual counseling.