Free Health Clinic
Forming In Phoenix Metro
Non-Profit Group That Currently Operates Health Fairs Raising Funds For A Brick And Mortar Structure To Serve The Uninsured And Is Holding A Fundraiser At The Crescent Ballroom This Weekend
By Wayne Schutsky
Modern Times Magazine
June 4, 2013 — With the goal of bringing accessible health services to the uninsured in the Valley, the Phoenix Allies for Community Health (PACH) is working towards opening a volunteer-run free clinic in downtown Phoenix.
“People have a basic right to primary care,” said PACH Vice President Jason Odhner.
The non-profit already runs multiple health fairs at Templo Emmanuel and the Arizona Worker Rights Center in Phoenix, but hopes to provide more extensive services at the free clinic.
At the health fairs, PACH generally helps diagnose common illnesses like diabetes, hypertension, or high cholesterol. These readily-treatable ailments can lead to more complicated problems in uninsured peoples, because they are often left undiagnosed due to a lack of access to healthcare, said Odhner.
Following the health fairs, PACH has a network of doctors that they refer patients to for follow visits. When the group is able to officially open the free clinic, however, it will be able to conduct initial diagnoses and follow up appointments at the same location with the same medical staff.
“There are people who used to come to health fairs but needed follow ups,” said Illeana Salinas, Director of Operations at the Arizona Worker Rights Center. “Unfortunately, there was not a system before to do follow ups, so they only received check ups. But now with the team at PACH, they will be able to follow up with patients who need services but cannot afford them.”
The clinic would have a positive effect on the community because currently no clinic of this type exists in Phoenix, said Salinas. Other clinics operate in the Valley, but they are often not open daily and/or offer discounted services as opposed to free care.
PACH has already acquired a space to operate the clinic, a home located at 1726 E. Roosevelt St. in downtown Phoenix. The organization is currently renting the property from board members Bob and Amy McMullen and has plans to buy the property in the future.
But the acquisition of a physical space is only the first step in the process. Currently, PACH is looking to raise enough money to outfit the property, so it can attain the proper certification to operate as a clinic. The organization is currently in contact with city officials in order to make sure all requirements are met and the transition goes smoothly.
PACH needs to make multiple modifications to the home to make it clinic-ready, such as installing wheelchair ramps.
While the facility has not yet received certification, PACH members are prepping the space so it will be ready to operate the moment certification comes through. The small bungalow-style house has three bedrooms that are all outfitted like stereotypical rooms in a doctor’s office.
In addition to offering traditional primary care services, the clinic will provide a space for dieticians, physical and occupational therapists, midwives, acupuncturists, licensed counselors, and other types of providers work in close collaboration with the each other and the community to promote overall community health.
PACH also plans on making additions to the facility when funds are available, said Odhner. In the spacious lot next to the current structure, the group plans to build an additional clinic building and plant a community garden that it will use to promote healthy eating choices.
One benefit of PACH is that it is “not only interested in providing services but also education,” said Salinas. “They teach patients how to eat well and exercise, so we can keep the community healthy and not just focus on treating people when they are sick.”
PACH has multiple fundraising models it plans to utilize in order to raise the funds needed to outfit and fund the clinic.
In order to eventually purchase the clinic location and outfit the house, PACH plans to utilize “direct appeals targeted toward supportive medical professionals, grant applications from both government and private sources, and public fundraising events such as benefit concerts,” according to a mission statement provided by PACH.
“We all suffer when community health is neglected,” said Odhner.
Additionally, the non-profit aims to cover most of its regular operating costs through patient donations and regular monthly donations from medical professionals in the community. In the first year, PACH is attempting to sign up 400 medical professionals into the recurring payment program, which will run between $15 and $40 each month.
PACH is made up of healthcare professionals and volunteers from multiple walks of life. It’s board includes President Bob McMullen, a licensed nurse practitioner (NP); Vice President Jason Odhner, a registered nurse (RN) and member of the Arizona Nurses Association and the Arizona Public Health Association; Secretary and Treasurer Amy McMullen, a certified EMT and business owner; Marinah V. Farrell, a licensed and certified midwife; and Diana Perez-Ramirez, a community organizer and program director with Puente Human Rights Movement.
A fundraiser concert and event for PACH will be held beginning at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. Second Ave, Phoenix. The event will feature a reunion of Ticker Tape Parade, performances by Jamie Woolford, Lip and Jared & The Mill and a raffle for prizes. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/381131335329070/.
PACH website: http://azpach.org/
Reach PACH on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/azpach
To volunteer with PACH email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wayne Schutsky is a senior contributor to Modern Times Magazine. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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