There’s still a place for the clinic

Published 10:09 pm Thursday, March 20, 2014

By Stephie Broadwater

The Western Tidewater Free Clinic was founded in 2007 for one purpose: to provide access to health care for uninsured, low-income residents in Franklin, Isle of Wight County, Southampton County and Suffolk.

Thanks to the incredible support of these communities, our volunteers, our donors and our granting organizations, we have seen more than 3,300 patients through almost 57,000 medical, dental and mental health visits, as well as pharmacy consultations, since our inception.

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At WTFC we provide coordinated, comprehensive and compassionate care as a health home for those we serve.

What the Affordable Care Act and the potential expansion of Medicaid will look like for Virginians has yet to be determined. However, all of us affiliated with WTFC would love to live in a world where everyone with a serious medical need has access to quality medical care.

We are not to that point yet, and we are not close.

Regardless of what happens with the expansion, there will continue to be thousands of people in our service area without medical insurance. In addition, there will be many who will not have a health home with access to quality medical care.

One of the most common misconceptions about the ACA is that there will no longer be a need for free clinics to continue to provide care to fill the “gap” for the uninsured and economically disadvantaged in our community. In fact, many people will continue to fall through the cracks based upon household income or other circumstances.

The ACA is a first step to providing coverage to more people across the country. It is not a system that will cover all people.

We believe WTFC will remain an important part of the health care delivery system in Western Tidewater.

Given the current dynamic in the health care industry, we are attentive to our patients, the community and the impacts as ACA unfolds.

WTFC believes in giving people a hand up, not a handout, in improving their health and will continue to address the needs of the underserved with respect to medical, dental and medication access.

Our vision at WTFC is for a healthy community where all people will be inspired and enabled to make healthy lifestyle choices, to use preventive care, and to access resources to live in a safe and wholesome environment.

With our values of excellence, unity of purpose, respect, diversity, integrity and good stewardship of all resources, we will continue to do what we do best, regardless of political decisions.

Thank you to those who help make our vision a reality as we continue to serve as a health home offering high-quality, non-emergency health care to those who cannot otherwise afford it.

Stephie Broadwater is chairman of the Western Tidewater Free Clinic’s board of directors and a community volunteer. For more information about the clinic, visit www.wtfreeclinic.org or contact Executive Director Miriam Beiler at 923-1060 ext. 7001 or mbeiler@wtfreeclinic.org. The clinic is located at 2019 Meade Parkway in Suffolk.