Free Clinics Affected By Primary Care Physician Shortage

In the face of growing numbers of uninsured and low-income patients due to the economy, some free clinics are having difficulty meeting the increased demand, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Since March, the Parma Health Ministry, in Cleveland, "which has only two volunteer primary care physicians who see patients in the evenings, has had to turn people away." Nicole Lamoureux, executive director of the National Association of Free Clinics, said the number of people seeking care at free clinics had increased by 40 to 50 percent in recent months, and that many of the newcomers have recently lost insurance coverage.

"With little, if any, state or federal funding, most free clinics - which rely primarily on volunteer physicians and specialists to operate - have been forced to turn away new patients," the Plain Dealer reports. Laura Pridgeon, managing director of the Ohio Association of Free Clinics, said the Parma Health Ministry has referred patients on to local volunteer physicians, a strategy used by a few other Ohio clinics coping with recession set backs (Wu, 6/18).

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