CLEVELAND — Hundreds of people will be going to the Care Alliance location at 2916 Central Ave. in Cleveland for Medworks upcoming free dental clinics. Some will be picking up prescription eyeglasses they got fitted for at an earlier clinic. Others will be there for the free dental care.
They’re possible because various foundations donate money to Medworks to make the clinics possible and doctors and medical staff donate their time to provide care to as many people as possible.
The goal is to reach people like Josephine Miller, who found the free clinics in 2016 when affordable medical care seemed out of reach.
“I hadn’t been to a doctor in a while,” said Miller. “I was working two jobs and I didn’t have healthcare.”
It’s a common problem.
Census Data estimates about 6% of Ohioans don’t have any health insurance. Some of the people who have coverage don’t use it because they either don’t know how or they get large medical bills anyway.
“If you’ve gone and gotten a significant bill afterwards from somewhere, you’re scared to go again if you feel like it’s something that you don’t have the extra funding to afford it,” said Medworks Executive Director Jennifer Andress.
Andress says getting patients in the door is important because a quick, free check-up can make many people realize there are medical options for them that they can afford.
Sometimes, even, for free.
The free clinics have been going on since 2009 and give those patients a routine check-up, dental care, new pairs of eyeglasses, and the chance to catch the medical issues that would be disastrous if they were ignored.
“I was diagnosed with cancer through [the doctor] through Medworks,” said Miller.
Her first free clinic lead to other healthcare checkups, which found the diagnosis no one wants. Medworks then connected her with free cancer treatment because she qualified for financial aid covering those massive costs.
The trick is knowing where to look.
“There are resources available but healthcare is hard to navigate,” said Andress. “[Medworks] rescues people who feel like they’re falling through the cracks, that they can’t afford the healthcare that’s available. We want them to know that we’re here to help and we can get you connected.”
Miller has been cancer-free for the last two years. Unlike before, when she didn’t have health insurance before Medworks, now, she’s covered.
“I’m getting the proper medications and prescriptions that I need to help keep me going through my daily life,” said Miller.
Before the pandemic, the free clinics could be in massive convention centers where hundreds of people could easily cycle through in a few hours. During COVID, the organization pivoted to virtual visits and in-person events with appointments to control crowds.
You can sign up for this weekend's clinics and find more information about upcoming clinics as they are announced here.
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