Clinics provide free health care

DECATUR, AL (WAFF) - The cost of health care is going through the roof.

In many areas, free clinics are popping up to help people who don't have insurance.

Diabetic Pamala Bowling has reached her own conclusions about St. John's Episcopal Outreach Center.

"They're my main source of survival.  They provide me with insulin I need," said Bowling.

The clinic is at the Old Baugh, Wiley, Smith Hospital. Bowling said they support her while she is laid off.

"I had an amputation in August that I could not fight with antibiotics.  I had intravenous antibiotics in me for 12 weeks, and it was impossible for me to fight it off," Bowling said.

She lost a toe due to an infection.

She said she's in awe of the volunteers who make this place work, doctors, nurses, techs and more.

With about 15 to 20 pharmacists, there is more than 300 years experience.

Local organizations and individuals donate equipment, money and time.

Patients are seen at night.

"Our doctors are in active practice.  When they close their office, they come here and see patients starting at 4:00, and then we stay until all patients are seen on Tuesday and Thursday night," said Debbie Roche, the clinic's executive director.

And Tuesday and Thursday mornings patients are picking up prescription refills.

"When a patient comes we'll have 6 exam rooms.  We'll have a provider on each hall with 3 rooms each," said Roche.

They will see from 20 to 35 patients in an evening. Most patients are chronic diabetic, hypertensive, or COPD sufferers.

In addition to the medical clinic and the pharmacy here, the facility also has a dental clinic.

"We do x-rays a couple of times a month, prior to those people being seen," said Dr. Scott Harris, the clinic's medical director.

Patients are seen at the dental clinic Friday mornings.

Harris said most of the work here involves extractions and some simple fillings.

"All [the] equipment is donated equipment, which is nice; and so we have about 5 dentists volunteering here regularly, and we're always looking for more," said Dr. Harris.

They see about 50 patients in the dental area per month.

"It's a godsend. I'm thankful because these people are wonderful," said Bowling.

To find out where the free clinics are in your area, executive director Debbie Roche said to call 2-1-1 for more information.

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