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Calling on Uninsured Texans: Free Clinic to Assist Thousands

DALLAS - Texas has the highest rate of uninsured people in the country with about 26 percent of residents in general and 22 percent of children lacking health insurance. As it turns out, many of the uninsured aren’t aware of the free and affordable services available to them.

On Saturday, Sept. 29 at the Dallas Convention Center, hundreds of volunteers in the form of doctors, nurses and non-medical volunteers will be on hand to assist not only the uninsured, but those from around the region needing immediate medical assistance.

Started by the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (NAFC) in 2009, the free event, or C.A.R.E. (Communities Are Responding Everyday) Clinic operates solely on funding from private citizens and sponsors.

Nicole Lamoureux is the organization’s executive director.

“We’ve raised just over $220,000 for this event and we need just about $300,000 in order to make it work.”

The Dallas event is one of 12 in a series of large C.A.R.E. Clinics held around the country. The NAFC has teamed with the Lone Star Association of Charitable Clinics (LSACC) and the North Texas Association of Charitable Clinics (NTACC) to put on the event.

The process will not only help those needing assistance now, but connect them with the area’s available resources for follow-up treatment, which Lamoureux notes is one of the biggest concerns among clinic participants.

“We want to make sure that we can help everyone understand that there are resources that are out there that they can access. You might have to wait, you may go on a waiting list, but it’s better to be on a waiting list than to not get the Health Care you need at all,” she said.

Service locations available to patients following the clinic include Health Center of Helping Hands for Rockwall County, which aims to provide affordable Health Care for citizens.

“What we hope to act as here in Rockwall is a place for folks to follow up,” says Maggie Fuller, practice manager with the health center. “They can go to the C.A.R.E. Clinic and get their initial assessments and things like that but eventually they’re going to need a place to go that will help them manage their care. So we are just one of the many resources that this C.A.R.E. Clinic will then be able to pass along to these folks so they can get well, and get back into the work force and get healthy.”

Fuller says Helping Hands assisted close to 6,000 individuals in 2011, and expects that number to exceed 7,000 this year. But according to their statistics "that’s really only about half of the people just in our community that are going without health insurance.”

Hear our complete interview with Nicole Lamoureux and Maggie Fuller above.

NAFC says that more than 15,000 uninsured patients have received medical care at C.A.R.E. Clinics throughout the country since its inception three years ago.

Information on the event and how to register is available at www.nafcclinics.org/. At the site, you can donate to support this and future clinics by clicking on the “Donate Now” button. Patients can register for an appointment by calling 800-340-1301. 

The event is scheduled for Sept. 29 at the Dallas Convention Center, Hall A, 650 South Griffin St.

Both medical and non-medical volunteers are needed from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. on the day of the clinic, Sept. 29, as well as for setup on Thursday afternoon, Sept. 27, and all day Friday, Sept. 28.

About the Organizations:

The National Association of Free and Charitable Clinicsis the only nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is solely focused on the issues and needs of more than 1,200 free and charitable clinics and the people they serve in the United States.

Founded in 2001 and headquartered near Washington, D.C., the NAFC is an effective advocate for the issues and concerns of free and charitable clinics, their volunteer workforce of doctors, dentists, nurses, therapists, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, technicians and other health care professionals, as well as the patients served by free and charitable clinics in communities throughout the nation. For more information, go to: www.nafcclinics.org/.

The Lone Star Association of Charitable Clinics (LSACC)is a statewide organization that supports Texas’s free and charitable clinics. Our mission is to enhance the overall ability of Texas charitable clinics to provide the highest level of care. LSACC and its members share a common mission of addressing the needs of the uninsured by using the generosity of our communities as a base of our operations. For more information, go to: www.tx-lsacc.org.

The North Texas Association of Charitable Clinics (NTACC)is a regionally based collaborative group in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The mission of NTACC is to serve as an advocate for member clinics and for the populations they serve. NTACC exists to inspire, inform, connect, mentor, renew and support the charity clinics of North Texas and surrounding communities.

Health Center of Helping Hands works to provide affordable health and wellness office visits, low cost lab fees and prescription assistance, among other services. More information is available through this brochure.