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Free two-day health clinic coming to Grass Valley

Volunteer dental professionals examine of one the hundreds of patients who were treated free of cost in 2015 in Grass Valley. This year's event, hosted by United Way of Nevada County in conjunction with CareForce, is scheduled for Jan. 11 and 12 at the Nevada County Fairgrounds.
Submitted to The Union

VOLUNTEER OR RECEIVE SERVICES

For more information on volunteering or receiving services, please visit http://www.californiacareforce.org or contact Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator Emerald Carroll at 916-749-4170 or emerald@californiacareforce.org.

DONATIONS

To make a donation to the cost-free medical clinic set for January 2020, checks can be made out to United Way of Nevada County, with “Grass Valley free health care clinic” written on the bottom of the check. The address is United Way of Nevada County, P.O. Box 2733, Grass Valley, CA, 95945. Donations can also be made online via credit card or PayPal at http://www.uwnc.org, or by calling the United Way at 530-274-8111.

Organizers have shifted into high gear in preparation for a massive two-day free medical clinic, set for Jan. 11 and 12 at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley.

Organized in conjunction with the Roseville-based nonprofit California CareForce, United Way of Nevada County will be hosting the event, which will offer cost-free dental, vision and medical care to uninsured and under-insured individuals and families in the Nevada County area. Upwards of 300 volunteer health-care professionals from throughout California are expected to provide critical care for an estimated 500-plus patients per day.

All services are free. Clinic participants do not need to provide proof of insurance, employment, income, residency, immigration status or an ID to receive care.

THE SEASON OF GIVING

“I’ve never forgotten the last CareForce free clinic at the Grass Valley Veterans Memorial Building in 2015,” said Nevada City physician and volunteer Jonathan Pierce. “A hall full of patients, volunteers and providers — care provided with an open heart. That epitomized community and the spirit of the season to me.”

The clinic is expected to have 60 dental chairs, 10 medical exam rooms and four “vision lanes.” A vision lab will produce free prescription eyeglasses on-site. Dentistry will include X-rays, cleanings, fillings and extractions.

Despite a fair number of medical professionals signing up to volunteer, more are still needed in numerous capacities including general dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, dental X-ray techs, oral surgeons, optometrists, opticians, ophthalmic techs, physicians, nurse practitioners, chiropractors, RNs, EMTs and more, according to CareForce’s volunteer coordinator Emerald Carroll. Professional medical volunteers must be licensed and/or certified and be insured. Retired medical professional volunteers may help with triage and assisting.

The dental section will consist of three sections: hygiene, restoration and oral surgery. The clinics do not provide any endodontic work. Professionals do not need to bring their own equipment, as all instrumentation and personal protective equipment will be provided. They may also be eligible to receive three CE credits free of charge.

General volunteers are also needed on Jan. 9-10 to do setup, and again on Jan. 11-12 to register patients, stock supplies, escort patients to departments and serve food. Local organizers have also put out a call for Spanish-speaking interpreters and computer-savvy volunteers who can help with patient registration.

“United Way and the Health Clinic planning committee have been hard at work on the clinic for over a year,” said Megan Timpany, United Way of Nevada County’s CEO. “It is really exciting to be able to be involved with such a great collaboration that will bring beneficial impact to individuals in our community.”

All patients must have a wristband to receive services. Wristbands for next-day services will be distributed free to anyone in need from 4 to 6 p.m. Jan. 10 and 11 at the Nevada County Fairgrounds, 11228 McCourtney Road, Grass Valley, and from 2 to 4 p.m. Jan. 10 and 11 at the Sierra Community House, 11695 Donner Pass Road, Truckee.

“We are happy to be back in Grass Valley to provide our free clinic to all those in need,” said Pamela Congdon, California CareForce founder and executive director. “The patients are so grateful that somebody cares about them. They are receiving health care services they would not be able to access elsewhere. The Grass Valley community has come together to make this clinic the best it can be.”

NEED for AFFORDABLE CARE

“Most of us know how expensive dental and vision care are,” said Pierce. “Bad dentition poses a potentially life threatening health challenge for many, and others’ uncorrected vision loss impairs their ability to work and even get about. Generally, available medical insurance doesn’t cover either area very well. Until America joins the rest of the developed world — every other developed nation on our planet offers close to universal health care to its people, demonstrably superior to what we do — a majority of our community’s residents need what California CareForce provides.”

According to The Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization that focuses on national health issues, most uninsured people are in low-income families and have at least one worker in the family. Even under the Affordable Care Act, many uninsured people cite the high cost of insurance as the main reason they lack coverage. In 2018, 45% of uninsured adults said that they remained uninsured because the cost of coverage was too high. Many people do not have access to coverage through a job, while others have income just above the cutoff for financial assistance.

In 2018, one in five uninsured American adults went without needed medical care due to cost, reported the study. Additionally, uninsured people are less likely than those with insurance to receive preventive care and services for major health conditions and chronic diseases. When those who are uninsured do seek medical care, they are often faced with medical bills they cannot afford to pay off. In 2018, uninsured non-elderly adults were over twice as likely as their insured counterparts to have had problems paying medical bills.

This can quickly translate into medical debt since most of the uninsured have low or moderate incomes and have little — if any — savings. Those who are considered “under-insured” often have deductibles that are so high they cannot afford regular doctor visits, which can also translate into poor health outcomes.

“Provider and volunteer participants share an underlying understanding: it never made a person more productive, more moral, or a ‘better’ person that she or he live in fear of medical bankruptcy from one day to the next, of an inability to work or care for the family,” said Pierce. “That we can do more medically for others in our community today obligates us to extend to them what we can. This sincere intent to serve can then elevate the sense of community for all.”

“In times like these, it’s important we know we care about each other — this clinic is a gift from the heart,” echoed Mindy Oberne, who serves on the upcoming health clinic’s planning committee. “We need to work together so that health care is not an issue for those who need it. We’re very proud of how our community has contributed, but we still need more volunteers to step up if we’re going to serve everyone in need.”

To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at cory@theunion.com or call 530-477-4203.


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