Free clinics introduce residents to health care options

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CLEVELAND – Hundreds of people will be coming to Care Alliance location at 2916 Central Ave. in Cleveland for Medworks next free dental clinics. Some will buy prescription glasses that they have fitted for at a previous clinic. Others will be there for free dental care.

This is possible because various foundations donate money to Medworks to make clinics possible, and doctors and medical staff volunteer their time to provide care to as many people as possible.

Medworks

Medworks’ free clinics offer people who may not be able to afford health insurance or large medical bills a chance to get medical exams and services anyway.

The goal is to reach people like Josephine Miller, who found the clinics free in 2016 when affordable medical care seemed out of reach.

“I hadn’t seen a doctor for a while,” Miller said. “I had two jobs and had no health care.

This is a common problem.

Census Data estimates that about 6% of Ohioans do not have health insurance. Some of the people who have coverage don’t use it because they don’t know how to do it, or they get big medical bills anyway.

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Miller struggled to afford health care before finding Medworks’ free clinics. It was a discovery that probably saved his life.

“If you’ve gone and received a large bill afterwards, you’re afraid to go back if you feel it’s something you don’t have the extra funds to afford,” said Jennifer Andress , Executive Director of Medworks.

Andress says getting patients to the door is important because a quick, free exam can make many people realize that there are medical options available to them that they can afford.

Sometimes, even, for free.

The free clinics have been around since 2009 and offer these patients a routine exam, dental treatment, new pairs of glasses, and the ability to spot medical issues that would be disastrous if ignored.

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“Before COVID, we would have clinics that hundreds and hundreds of people would come to,” Andress said. “Even our downtown dental clinic, we would have a thousand people come in two days.”

“I was diagnosed with cancer by [the doctor] via Medworks, ”Miller said.

Her first free clinic led to further health examinations, which found the diagnosis that no one wants. Medworks then linked her to free cancer treatment, as she was entitled to financial assistance covering these huge costs.

The trick is knowing where to look.

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Medworks

Small exams can often detect medical problems before they cause irreparable damage.

“Resources are available, but healthcare is difficult to navigate,” said Andress. “[Medworks] saves people who feel like they are falling through the cracks, who cannot afford the health care available. We want them to know that we are here to help and that we can connect you.

Miller has been cancer free for two years. Unlike before, when she didn’t have health insurance before Medworks, now she is covered.

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Medworks

When vaccines became available in northeast Ohio, Medworks helped create mobile vaccination clinics to get as many people vaccinated as possible.

“I am receiving the correct medications and prescriptions that I need to help me continue with my daily life,” Miller said.

Before the pandemic, free clinics could be found in huge convention centers where hundreds of people could easily ride their bikes in a matter of hours. During COVID, the organization pivoted to virtual tours and in-person events with appointments to control crowds.

You can sign up for clinics this weekend and find more information about upcoming clinics as they are announced. here.

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