Why I am a Champion for this Cause
I knew little about this agency before I volunteered but Boy! was I in for a pleasant surprise when I started! A friend and colleague, let me shadow her when she volunteered as a nurse during one of the free clinics and I was simply amazed at the professionalism and efficiency with which the Free Clinic is run. It really impressed me that such quality health care was being provided by an all volunteer staff. In fact the whole agency employs only 3 paid staff members who juggle over 120 volunteers, connect patients with many other community agencies, write grants for funding, and design & implement community education programs. In my estimation they are brilliantly talented and an incredibly dedicated group of people.
As most of you know, my husband recently received a heart transplant. Luckily we had private insurance that allowed his condition to be diagnosed early on and allowed us to seek and receive care from one of the best cardiac centers in upstate NY. With out that insurance, we would not have been able to pay for the 11 month stay in the hospital or the resulting surgery and after care. So how do individuals without insurance do it? They don’t; and that is the sad story. There is a large population right here in Ithaca that cannot afford insurance because they work part time or are self employed, but yet make too much to qualify for medicaid.
I think everyone is entitled to good health care regardless of their economic status. Diagnosing and treating medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, etc early on can save lives, families, and dollars . The truth is, many do not seek early medical intervention until the condition is so bad that it requires hospitalization. The Ithaca Free Clinic provides early intervention as well as acute care, provides maintenance care for those with chronic illness, refers patients to specialists who provide care pro bono or on a sliding scale and helps individuals find ways to pay their medical costs. You would be amazed!
In addition to providing health care for a population that is other wise not served, the Ithaca Health alliance provides a place where young pre-practitioners (my own son included) can become inspired, be mentored and have hands on experience.