Free Health Clinics Still Drawing Large Crowds In Cities Across U.S.

Parade: A series of no-cost health care clinics are making their way across America. In Atlanta 1,050 volunteers gave their time to serve uninsured Americans who needed medical care. "The Atlanta mega-clinic was the sixth in a series that began in September. (The first was held in Houston in partnership with TV talk-show host and cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz.) The events—which have served more than 8,000 people so far—give the uninsured the chance to get medical exams and screenings and also to connect with the network of 1,200 free clinics nationwide." While some patients came in with life threatening conditions, the "majority of the Atlanta clinic's 1300 patients had less immediate problems—hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and arthritis. According to [Nicole Lamoureux, executive director of the National Association of Free Clinics (NAFC)], 60% of the patients said they hadn't seen a doctor in at least a year; 20% hadn't had health care in more than five years" (Brenner, 5/9).

American Medical News: Meanwhile, retail clinics are looking forward to a business expansion thanks to the federal health reform. "The nation's largest retail clinic chain, CVS-owned MinuteClinic, said it could double its locations in five years, while Walgreen-owned Take Care Clinics said it expects to grow as well." Supporters of retail clinics believe that the expansion of the insured in America will mean more people will be looking for "access points" to care, which low-cost health clinics can offer. But others  don't agree. The CEO of Merchant Medicine, a Shoreview, Minn.-based retail clinic consultancy firm, was "surprised that MinuteClinic made such an aggressive statement about growth" because, in his view, reform will help some, "but he doesn't think it will be as big of a boon as some in the industry think" (Dolan, 5/10).

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