At the Clearwater Free Clinic, the “working poor” is the population we strive to serve. This population is hugely impacted by a costly health care system and low wages. The uninsured contribute to the wealth of our community but are unable to afford basic health care services. Often, their incomes disqualify them from receiving what few government programs remain. Patients who are newly unemployed have come to the Clearwater Free Clinic after losing their health insurance along with their job. The majority of the patients who come to the Clearwater Free Clinic have serious chronic disorders like diabetes, heart disease, or asthma, requiring constant monitoring and daily medications. Others seek assistance with acute medical problems.
Many Clinic patients are employed at jobs that do not provide access to health care. They may be self-employed or small business owners, part-time workers or single parents. They may be the people that you see and interact with everyday…the waitress at your coffee shop, the housekeeper who helps clean your home, the clerk at your local store, the handyman who makes repairs, the teacher’s aide at your children’s school or young man who takes care of your yard…these are only a few of the faces of the uninsured and the patients who receive care at the Clearwater Free Clinic.
Clearwater Free Clinic Patient Stories
Sandra is a 62 yr. old woman who was employed by the Pinellas County Schools System until complications from her severe diabetes forced her to take early retirement. Sandra’s $1,822.00 per/mo. pension barely covered her basic living expenses and left her unable to afford the $700.00 a month cobra insurance premium necessary to maintain her health insurance. She had been without medical care and insulin for two months before presenting to the Clearwater Free Clinic for care. Sandra, who was very close to a serious medical crisis, now receives ongoing medical care, medications, diabetic supplies and diabetic management at the Clinic.
Joanne is a 38 yr. old divorced mother of two who has lived in Pinellas County for 20 years. She had previously been employed by a State Agency until funding cuts resulted in job cuts and she was let go. Unable to find immediate work, Joanne exhausted her savings and subsequently lost her house, and her car. During this time, she developed some disturbing medical symptoms which included severe pain. Uninsured and not aware of the CFC, she went to a local emergency room for care. A CAT scan revealed that Joanne had a mass on her kidney. The hospitalist referred Joanne to the Clearwater Free Clinic for care. Through the CFC’s extensive referral group of volunteer specialists, Joanne was seen by a Urologist for surgery and treatment. Joanne now comes to the CFC for follow-up care. She had never been without health insurance before!
Fred is a 62 yr. old single career hospitality worker who first became a patient of the Clearwater Free Clinic in 2004. Having moved frequently for work, Ted had never given much thought to having health insurance until age 55 when he started having symptoms of serious health issues. He was unable to afford private insurance or pay for an office visit. His employment made him ineligible for Pinellas County’s Health Program for low-income ($1,000.00 a mo). The CFC initially diagnosed him with prostate cancer but soon it became clear that he had several other serious problems that had gone undiagnosed for many years. These included colon cancer, high blood pressure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Seven years have passed and the two cancers are in remission and his chronic hypertension and obstructive pulmonary disease are under control. With the help and guidance of the Clearwater Free Clinic, he has made lifestyle changes that have helped improve his health and outlook on life. He continues to work!
Sam is a 58 yr/old male who came to the Clearwater Free Clinic seeking a work physical required that was required in order to obtain a truck drivers license. The physical exam revealed that Sam had severe hypertension. Some urinary complaints caused the clinic physician to refer Sam to a Urologist for evaluation where he was .diagnosed with bladder cancer. Sam’s blood pressure is now well controlled and he is two years post surgery with his cancer is in remission. Sam obtained his truck driving license and works for a small company that unfortunately does not offer health insurance. Sam continues to come to the CFC for monthly medications and semi-annual office visits and blood work.
Linda is a 34 yr/old female who presented to the CFC with severe foot and ankle pain. She had left a good paying job with benefits as a high school teacher in Atlanta until 1 ½ years ago when she moved to Clearwater to care for her elderly parents. She had been trying to find a teaching job in the area but the schools were not hiring. She was in the process of looking for other work when she had the acute episode of pain. The woman was diagnosed with gout and was treated with acute medications and given an appointment with a Clinic nutritionist to educate her on a proper diet to avoid future flares of the disease.