Whether you prefer donkeys or elephants, Sunday night’s passage of the health care reform bill was historic.
On the news, at work and around the water cooler, health care seems to be quite a hot topic, and rightfully so.
We all need it.
Washington, D.C. politicians may sit in the capital building for years arguing, debating and pondering how to best bring health care to every citizen.
But in Harrison County, one group is already working to make that dream a reality in Cynthiana.
Long before President Obama’s health care reform policy hits insurance companies, hospital doors and doctors’ waiting rooms, a group of medical professionals and concerned citizens are already at work to create a free medical clinic in Harrison County.
Introducing Journey Medical Mission.
An idea from local medical professionals and Journey Church members, the medical clinic plans to open on May 20 at the former Chamber of Commerce building on Pike Street, next to the old jail.
The need for free health care services in Harrison County is great, said Dr. Henry Norfleet.
Practicing family medicine in the community for over 20 years, Norfleet said many residents without health insurance or those unable to afford a doctor’s visit, often end up at the emergency room.
“That’s not really the best way to take care of ongoing medical problems,” Norfleet said.
With an increasing unemployment rate, Norfleet said he estimates that 1,500 to 2,000 Harrison Countians are currently living without health insurance.
It’s a problem, he said, that has only worsened over the past six to eight years.
The nurse manager and diabetes educator at the health department and Journey Medical Mission’s clinic coordinator, Jane Whitehead said she also sees many uninsured patients.
“They’re kind of falling in between the cracks,” she said.
While financial assistance programs are offered for children’s health care, Whitehead said adults needing health care assistance don’t always find a helping hand.
“There’s not anything for adults,” she said.
Many residents, she said, must choose between food and health care.
“And everybody’s a heart beat away from that,” she said.
But with Journey Medical Mission, Whitehead said residents will be able to receive free health care and guidance from a staff of medical volunteers, including herself and Norfleet.
“We need nurses, physicians and volunteers,” Whitehead said Tuesday afternoon.
The clinic is planning to be open every Thursday evening, requiring at least eight to 10 volunteers on those nights.
Even more volunteers will be needed throughout the week.
In the future, Whitehead said Journey Medical Mission hopes to include a free dental clinic and possibly lab work.
There’s no doubt, Whitehead said, that the clinic won’t stay busy.
A similar clinic in Georgetown saw almost 1,000 uninsured patients last year.
The only requirement for Journey Medical Mission will be information verifying that the patient is a Harrison County resident (either a driver’s license, lease agreement or utility bill).
But none of it will work, Whitehead said, without volunteers, both those in the medical field and those without medical education.
A community-wide meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 1 at 7 p.m. at Journey Church in Harrison Square, beside AutoZone.
Additional details will be provided at this meeting, along with application forms for medical and non-medical volunteers to sign up.
“The heart of our clinic will be our volunteers,” said Kristin Bacon, Journey Church Fundraising and Community Awareness Volunteer.
Tax-deductible donations for Journey Medical Mission can be sent to P.O. Box 686, Cynthiana, KY 41031.
“We’re excited,” Whitehead said about the progress of the clinic. “The ball is rolling... The heart of Harrison County is so strong and we know the community is going to be so supportive...”
Perhaps Washington, D.C. politicians could learn a thing or two here in Harrison County...