The mission of Americans Helping Americans® partner, Community Helping Hands Clinic in Cleveland, Georgia, is to provide healthcare to the “medically underserved” in White County where there is just one physician for every 4,100 residents – more than two-and-a-half times the Georgia figure of about 1,520, and nearly ten times the national average of 435 residents per physician.
Community Helping Hands Clinic is one of very few free clinics in the United States which operates within a county with no hospital of its own and receives no government funding while providing healthcare services with a retail value estimated at more than $2 million annually.
Instead, it relies on voluntary donations of money, time, and professional services, as well as grant funding from the supporters Americans Helping Americans® from across the country.
Local residents with no insurance who meet the income restrictions “are seen at no charge by benevolent medical professions” for a variety of primary care conditions including commonly diagnosed chronic illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), coronary artery disease (CAD) and arthritis.
Patients are also referred to specialists for additional appropriate free care, including dental and vision services.
And access to low-cost medications and prescription assistance programs, as well as free diabetic supplies, are among other benefits offered to patients of the clinic.
Executive director Gene White also notes that in White County 16 percent of residents lack health insurance, nearly double the national benchmark of 8.8 percent, and this past year provided health care to more than 200 county residents.
“These facts mean that there are many more people in need of Community Helping Hands Clinic’s services than are currently being served,” says Gene. “The goal of this project is to continue to meet this need to provide health care for the indigent uninsured, even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic disruption.
“Many of our patients have chronic conditions that require medications in order to maintain their health,” said Gene, adding that “the clinic also identifies acute conditions, such as cancer, in patients and helps them arrange for secondary and tertiary care.
“There is also no other facility providing healthcare for low-income residents who have no health insurance in White County. In addition, White County has no local hospital, so emergency room treatment (inadequate and wasteful as that is) is only available by traveling to neighboring counties.”
And Gene explained, the grant funding from Americans Helping Americans® is more critical than ever due to the coronavirus as its main sources of revenue have evaporated with the cancellation of two of its major fundraising events over the past year due to COVID-19.
“The support provided by Americans Helping Americans® is critical to enabling Community Helping Hands Clinic to continue to provide free health care to residents who would otherwise likely go without primary healthcare.”