Hard times affecting families needing health care - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Hard times affecting families needing health care

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By Elizabeth Gentle - bio | email
Posted by Dana Franks - email

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - President Barack Obama wants spend big dollars to overhaul health care. Job cuts have taken away insurance benefits, while others simply can't afford a doctor's visit.

Workers at a Huntsville clinic said  they are seeing more patients. HEALS operates in four school-based clinics and provide healthcare to students and their families who are 19 years of age and younger.

HEALS is a non-profit organization that provides free medical and dental care to children in Huntsville and Madison County who don't have insurance. Many of the parents who bring their children in have lost their jobs and their insurance.

As an incentive, staff at the clinics give free shoes to children who come in for a yearly physical.

Carolyn Wade is a nurse at the HEALS Clinic at Martin Luther King Junior Elementary School.  She said the number of patients has gone up lately.

"We may not have seen the child for the last three years, but now Mom doesn't have a job, doesn't have insurance, so she knows she can call the clinic and be seen at no charge," said Wade.

Patient care is hard for many families to afford. Wade can only give sample medications, and anything else is out of pocket.

"If you can't afford $200 for an inhaler, your child isn't going to get any better," said Wade.

Many people are cutting back on health care because they simply can't afford it.

President Obama said he has a plan that includes a 10-year, $364 billion reserve fund to help pay for proposed healthcare reforms.

But what do families do in the meantime? Even the HEALS Clinic is being drastically affected by the poor economy.

Anne Spalding is in charge of Medicaid outreach. She said their financial backing is frustrating.

"We rely strictly on grants and donations. There's really not that much money out there these days. Everybody is looking for the same dollar,' said Spalding.

The HEALS Clinic needs the public's help. They gladly accept monetary donations and donations of new shoes and children's sweatpants.

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