Published May 8, 2014
By Devin Corbitt, News Editor
Thanks to the efforts of a group of organizations across the United States, low-income residents of Bell, Coryell and Lampasas counties will be able to receive free care for both acute and chronic illnesses.
The GE Foundation recently announced its designation of a $2.1 million grant to AmeriCares, a non-profit organization that supports long-term health care initiatives for people in the United States and around the world. The grant is designed to help AmeriCares increase aid to free clinics across the U.S. over the next three years.
This grant comes as an effort to help the more than 47 million people across the country who do not have health insurance.
“If you think about the population that is using these clinics, they are folks who are unable to afford insurance, so because they are uninsured, they have a difficult time getting access to primary care,” Barash said. “The impact on the community is you now have a group of people who have access to preventative care services, to services for chronic disease, and by offering them those services on an ongoing basis through primary care clinicians, you’re improving the general population of that community and preventing unnecessary hospitalizations and emergency department visits and making their general health status better.”
The Greater Killeen Free Clinic, which has partnered with AmeriCares for nearly 10 years, will benefit greatly from this grant, primarily through the ability to now provide chronic care for their patients, such as through providing inhalers for asthma patients.
“Both AmeriCares and the Killeen clinic are focused on supporting and providing healthcare to poor, uninsured people,” Leslie McGuire, who oversees the AmeriCares U.S. Medical Assistance Program, said. “Through our model, we’re able to get the donations and vaccines; we are then able to get them out to clinics like Killeen that provide direct care to patients, so they’re a critical partner. The clinics are the ones providing the treatments and serving the patients directly, so it’s a terrific partnership.”
The clinic treated approximately 1,900 low-income children and adults last year, the majority of who are uninsured. They were able to do this through AmeriCares’ support of more than $100,000 of medications and equipment.
“Because AmeriCares, through the GE grant, is going to be able to offer larger number and wider range of medications, that is really going to keep our costs down for medications and enable us to use the money for other things,” Marlene DiLillo, Executive Director of the Greater Killeen Free Clinic, said. “We go through tons of gloves, for example, so the ability to get more medications and products from AmeriCares will drive down costs in other areas. And that’s directly related to AmeriCares getting the GE grant.”
This year, with the help of AmeriCares and the GE Foundation grant, the clinic anticipates aiding 300-400 additional patients, particularly in their new chronic care program, which launched May 1.
“We’ll be able to step up and help people with their chronic conditions, which will keep them at work,” DiLillo said. “If you’re not sick, it’s easier to work. Most of the people we see don’t have health insurance, and if they miss work, then they’re not going to get paid. So, it not only benefits the patient; it benefits the small employers that employ our patients; it will benefit the hospitals by keeping folks not only out of the emergency rooms, but making chronic conditions stable enough that if they have to go to the ER, they won’t be admitted to the hospital.”
For more information on the Greater Killeen Free Clinic, visit their website at http://www.gkfclinic.org.