Archbold, OH
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New Free Clinic Offers Care For County’s Uninsured

Fulton County residents who do not have private health insurance, and are ineligible for government programs, have another option.

The Free Clinic of Fulton County opened Tuesday night, Aug. 7, in the Fulton County Health Center medical office building, in Wauseon.

“We have a full schedule” for the first night of operations, said Randall Bowman, Archbold physician, chairman and president of the free clinic.

Keeping busy will not be a problem, he said.

The clinic is open to Fulton County residents age 18 to 64, who are not covered by the federal health care programs, Medicare and Medicaid, and do not have private health insurance.

To meet free clinic guidelines, a person’s income must be less than 150% of the federal poverty level. For an individual that would be less than $15,315; for a family of four it is $30,975.

Bowman said the impetus for the free clinic was “the realization that more and more people can’t afford health insurance. They don’t work full-time or insurance is not offered by their employer.

“This will help folks who fall into the cracks.”

Bowman said estimates change, but about 40 to 60 million people in the U.S. do not have health insurance; at the state level, the figure is about 1.4 million.

“Our best estimate is 1,000 to 3,000 individuals in Fulton County” are not covered by health insurance.

In the planning stages for just over a year, Bowman said the free clinic can treat people with illnesses before those illnesses get out of control and force the person to the emergency room.

Illnesses like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or asthma can be treated at the free clinic, at a much lower cost, instead of waiting for illnesses to progress and become a stroke, or heart disease, or other problem that requires expensive emergency room treatment.

The emergency room, he said, is where people without health insurance tend to get their health care, and the bills from the ER create more problems.

Tremendous Support

Bowman said the free clinic has received tremendous support from the community.

“We’ve approached key community people, and I don’t think anybody has turned me down.”

Board members include Harold Plassman, Debbie David, Dean Beck, Cindy Rose, Archbold; Anthony Uribes, Wauseon. Volunteer physicians and nurses will staff the clinic.

Financial support has come from donations. Bowman said the effort to raise money for the clinic will be ongoing.

The clinic will be open evening hours, from 6 pm to 8 pm on the first and third Tuesdays, and the second and fourth Thursdays of each month.

Beck said the space in the medical office building was not in use during those hours, and if the clinic wasn’t there another place would have to be found.

“We want to be cooperative,” Beck said.

“This will keep people out of our emergency room.”

In a press release, Beck said, “This clinic will provide a helping hand to working adults in our county.”

Medication, Tests

Bowman said if it is determined a free clinic patient needs medication, there are medication assistance programs available.

Also, he said, more and more local pharmacies are offering low-cost generic medications.

Expensive medical testing “is still going to be an issue we don’t have a good solution for yet.”

The free clinic can only treat non-emergency situation.

“Since our clinic will only be open one evening a week, we aren’t designed or equipped to handle emergencies,” Bowman said in the press release.

Bowman said he is excited about the free clinic.

“I just feel like it’s giving something back to the community. I feel a moral obligation to help those less fortunate.”

Appointments are necessary. For more information about the Free Clinic of Fulton County, determine eligibility, or schedule an appointment, contact the Fulton County Health Department, 419-337-0915.- David Pugh

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