09 Jun What You Need-to-Know About Arlington Free Clinic
This month we’re putting the spotlight on the Arlington Free Clinic (AFC), just around the corner from our office.
The clinic serves a powerful community need so efficiently that many people aren’t even aware of what is taking place. We’d like to let our community know how they can get involved.
We sat down with Kathryn Kovacs, Events Manager, and Alicia Nieves, Director of Development and Communications, to learn more about the Arlington Free Clinic.
What they most want you to know:
I asked Alicia and Kathryn what they most want you to know about the Arlington Free Clinic, so let’s start there.
Alicia: Even with ACA there’s still a lot of need! There hasn’t been a huge transition of people out of the program. Arlington Free Clinic is a privately funded non-profit, which means that the financial and volunteer support of individuals and businesses in our community is vital to our work.
Kathryn: There’s a lot of need in Arlington, a lot of people working really hard to get by. You’re helping your neighbors by supporting the clinic — 50% of people live in this zip code!
Why Would Arlington Need a Free Clinic?
The patients served by the Free Clinic are Arlington residents whose median household income is $15,000 annually.
These individuals provide essential services to everyone living and working in Arlington. Many of them work multiple jobs, none of which offer healthcare. Untreated illnesses can have disastrous effects on the uninsured and their dependents.
Their website describes it this way:
Arlingtonians without health insurance are more likely to go untreated, miss work, or end up in the emergency room where care is most expensive and health problems are treated but not resolved. Because they cannot afford the care they need, many patients come to AFC with multiple, long-untreated chronic illnesses.
Our patients are people you see every day in our community — cashiers, dish washers, security guards and housekeepers.
But doesn’t everyone have healthcare now because of the Affordable Care Act?
In a word: No. Surprisingly, the number is as high as 11,000 people in Arlington who fall into the “coverage gap.”
Thanks to the ACA, approximately 150 patients were transitioned out of the Free Clinic’s care; however, that merely meant that AFC was poised to receive 150 new uninsured people from the community [source].
How are new patients accepted?
New patients are accepted monthly via lottery, and the eligibility requirements and 2016 lottery dates, as well as a contact number for more information may be found when you click here.
While they serve 1600 patients, for every 1 patient, there are 6 more uninsured people in the community in need of healthcare.
How can you get involved?
For anyone interested in learning more, they may attend an upcoming tour of AFC. The tour is coming up soon on June 20th — email Kathryn if you plan to attend!
From talking with Alicia and Kathryn, I learned that there is a place for anyone who wants to help. The needs are as broad as reception, greeting, eligibility screening, clinic coordinators, nursing, pharmacists, and pharmacy techs. Of course, physicians are always needed on a volunteer basis, as well.
Language interpreters are always needed, with the highest percentage of people speaking Spanish, followed by Mongolian, Amharic, and Arabic.
Volunteers receive structured training, and will be well-directed in their duties.
Donations are always appreciated, of course, in the form of money or hygiene products — toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, soap, shampoo, etc.