Across the United States, urgent care clinics are becoming a popular option for patients who may not need emergency room care but still cannot wait for a doctors appointment. These walk in medical clinics are fast, affordable, and offer treatment for a wide variety of conditions requiring urgent help, making them a helpful choice for millions of people. But what do you do if you lack even the resources to obtain even urgent medical care? If you live in the Key Peninsula area of Washington State, you head to the free non-urgent care clinic, which is staffed by area volunteers.
The Key Free Clinic first began its operations in January 2012 with the help of a small group of local doctors. With the help of several healthcare organizations, community groups and area individuals, the walk in clinic opens twice a month and typically treats a little over a hundred patients every year. Many who visit the medical center are homeless, and usually suffer from common problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, breast cancer and more. Many of these conditions can be treated at urgent care clinics as well, but many of the people who visit the clinic don’t technically need immediate treatment, and likely couldn’t afford it anyway.
Currently, the clinic is staffed by 18 volunteer doctors and also draws a number of local nurses and nursing students. The project is a popular one for good reason: Key Peninsula reportedly has 17,000 residents but only one doctors office. The rest of this gap is covered by urgent care clinics and the Key Free Clinic. However, the latter is currently struggling to make its budget for 2015: while the clinic is free, staffed by volunteers and assisted by local pharmacies, it still needs around $12,000 a year to pay rent, utilities and other general costs.
For this reason, the non-urgent care center is in the process of raising funds, reaching out to local churches and hosting community events to draw attention to their cause. Currently, they have raised $5,000 of their intended amount. However, this hasn’t limited their dreams for the future: they plan to establish a reserve fund for medication, improve patient educational materials, improve access to ongoing care and referrals and create a fund for ongoing operations.
Donations can be made to the Key Penninsula Community Services office. For minor emergencies, area patients should seek care at one of their local urgent care clinics or a hospital.