Hope Medical Clinic making a difference for those without insurance

Free clinic funding

Free clinics are a lifeline for people who don't have health insurance. Right now, clinics in Florida are waiting to see if $10 million of funding will survive the Governor's veto pen.

There are 50,000 people without health insurance in Okaloosa and Walton counties alone.

At Hope Medical Clinic in Destin, there are 1600 active patients. Clinic Director Tim Roberts says don't think in stereotypes, think about people just like you. He said "Our patients are working, they're uninsured, they're a lot of times working in the service industry, they're making Destin what it is."

Registered Nurse Adam White says this is the least healthy region in the country, with the most expensive hospitals in the U.S. He said, "It's probably daily that we see patients who are making a decision about whether they can afford to go to their doctor and get their medications or whether they can keep the lights on."

Thirty doctors, physician's assistants and nurse practitioners donate their services. To cover all the other costs, the clinic scrambles for donations and grants. The legislature has approved $10 million for the Florida Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, which makes grants to clinics around the state.

Two years ago, Hope Medical Clinic got one of those grants. Roberts said, "That money helped us bring in computers for our volunteer physicians to use, it helped us have bandages, it helped us have lab equipment."

But last year, the appropriation was vetoed by the Governor. As they wait to find out if this year's funding will survive, Registered Nurse Adam White has already decided to extend his two-year stay. White said, "It's pretty regular that we get to talk to a patient who last week had cancer and this week does not, and that's a type of satisfying that keeps people coming back here."

Hope Medical Clinic serves Okaloosa and Walton counties. If people meet the income guidelines, they are treated free of charge.

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