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Demand Soars at Health Clinics Serving America’s Uninsured

  • March 20, 2009

The recent economic downturn is swelling the ranks of the unemployed and the number of uninsured patients seeking treatment at health clinics throughout the country. That’s why AmeriCares supplies critically needed medicines and supplies to help meet the demand.

All across the United States, AmeriCares helps the uninsured and underinsured by donating medicines and medical supplies to more than 150 health clinics and community health centers in more than 35 states.

One of AmeriCares partners in providing care to Americans in need is the West Virginia Health Right Clinic. In the heart of Appalachia, the clinic relies on donations from AmeriCares to meet the needs of its growing patient population. New patients are coming in at a rate of about 50 each week – almost all newly unemployed – said Executive Director Patricia Holmes White.

“Without the donations from AmeriCares the patients we serve would be forced to go without, putting their lives in grave danger. How do you put a value on a patient’s life? Our patients are our neighbors. They have families that rely on them and that love them,” White said.

“Putting their lives in jeopardy because they cannot afford a life-sustaining medication is not an option we should ever have to consider. Thanks to AmeriCares, we don’t have to make that choice.”

Over the past two years, AmeriCares provided the Health Right Clinic with $2.5 million in life-saving medications – including many expensive drugs the clinic would not be able to afford to purchase.

The Health Right Clinic is just one example of the more than 150 clinics AmeriCares has partnered with. From the depressed cities of Pennsylvania to the rural plains of Wyoming, Americans across the county no longer have to choose between feeding their families and taking care of their health.

Since our founding more than 25 years ago, AmeriCares has donated $147 million worth of aid to health care providers in the U.S., including medicines that relieve pain, fight infection and manage debilitating, chronic illnesses such as diabetes and asthma. As the economy slowly recovers, more families may join the more than 47 million Americans without health insurance and AmeriCares is working hard to meet the increased demand.

In addition to our commitment to Americans across the country, AmeriCares is equally committed to neighbors in our own backyard in Connecticut.  Since 1994 we have been operating free clinics for the uninsured in our local community. All three clinic locations have been bustling since the economy began to falter in the late summer and early fall. Patient visits increased 21 percent from 2007 to 2008.

Dina Valenti, who runs the AmeriCares Free Clinic in Danbury, Conn., said her clinic has seen a steady influx of new patients who have recently lost jobs, or are self-employed, and can no longer afford doctor visits.

“We’re seeing six, seven, eight new patients each clinic session, whereas before, we could go days without seeing a new patient,” Valenti said. “Almost every day we are seeing patients who have been delaying care and ignoring symptoms because they fear they can’t afford treatment.”

It’s unclear when the economy will recover. No matter how long it takes, AmeriCares will be there to help poor and uninsured Americans receive the health care they need.

Help AmeriCares deliver health and hope to our neighbors in need »