ROLLA - When you can't afford to pay for a doctor's visit or routine tests, you may feel forced to neglect your health. However, there is a free option in the Phelps county area, and it's making a real difference to people there.
The We Care Clinic, a service of Mercy Clinic in Rolla, just celebrated its sixth anniversary of bringing care to those who might otherwise go without. It serves individuals without insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. It focuses on managing patients' chronic illnesses while also serving as a bridge to other community resources.
Emmy Enriquez, a We Care Clinic patient and diabetic, makes frequent visits for her insulin and medication needs. Since its opening, the clinic has given Enriquez and her family a helpful alternative to accessing medical care.
"The clinic is worth the driving time," Enriquez said. "Especially for someone like me who is uninsured and has diabetes. I would like to recommend visiting the clinic. It really helps a lot of people."
On the first and third Tuesday of each month, volunteer physicians and nurses operate the clinic from 6 to 9 p.m. These evening hours mean the clinic's patients don't have to miss work or important daytime activities. For uninsured individuals, a regular visit to the doctor could mean required lab work and medication costs. The We Care Clinic provides them with the ability to access adequate medical care without the pressure of payment.
"We are a truly 'free' clinic and charge or receive no money for our services," explained Dr. Randall Huss, president of Mercy Clinic – Rolla Division. "We rely on the honor system for patients meeting the qualifications to use the services of the clinic. For that reason, we don't have to keep financial records on patients, and they don't have to wait through long check-in or check-out processes. Through the generosity of our suppliers, we're able to offer free lab tests used to manage most chronic conditions. Mercy absorbs the costs of basic x-rays and heart tests like electrocardiograms." For those whose conditions may require more complex testing or procedures, the We Care Clinic provides access to Mercy's charity policy which provides for discounts up to 100 percent depending on the patient's income.
The clinic may not be open that often, but for patients like Enriquez, it has made a huge difference in her quality of life.
Page 2 of 2 - "The We Care Clinic is another example of how we at Mercy attempt to live the Mercy mission statement," said Dr. Huss. "We want to bring to life the healing ministry of Jesus through our compassionate care and exceptional service."