Jonathan Pierce: Free health clinic a community effort | TheUnion.com

Jonathan Pierce: Free health clinic a community effort

Jonathan Pierce, MD
Other Voices

An excellent free clinic is returning to Grass Valley next Jan. 10-12, 2020, at the Nevada County Fairgrounds, and this semi-retired doctor is mighty happy about it!

Why? The coming combination of giving and receiving when there's real need.

United Way of Nevada County (uwnc.org) has teamed up with California CareForce (CaliforniaCareForce.org) to bring this wonderful clinic to our town. This way of giving fits so well to a community like ours that values, in my eyes, reaching out to others in need.

One would think that, with the fairly thorough effort to improve California's public health by implementing Obamacare, medical needs here would be better covered. Compared to the past that's true, but American medical care is still fractured, especially with respect to the affordability of vision and dental care, among other areas.

United Way of Nevada County has teamed up with California CareForce to bring this wonderful clinic to our town. This way of giving fits so well to a community like ours that values, in my eyes, reaching out to others in need.

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Our CareForce is gearing up to provide up to 1,000 attendees with dental, eye and medical exams and subsequent basic dental work and vision correction with glasses, all for free. The 2015 clinic at the Veteran's Hall served 559 and rendered about $250,000 worth of care. This time, instead of first-come, first-served, attendees are to arrive the day prior to opening and receive an armband setting the time they are to check back into the clinic.

Most of us know how expensive dental and vision care are. 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.

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.

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.

So, how can you make this clinic a success? Donate, both cash and in kind. California CareForce has calculated that every $1 donated generates $20 worth of care. Just an example: $250 supports a dental chair and associated equipment for hygienists and dentists so-they'll have all they require to do a great job for multiple patients over two days.

Medical supplies are also needed for the medical and optical sections, as are breakfast and lunch for all the hard-working volunteers. We are on our way to the $60,000 needed for the clinic but look forward to your help.

Local businesses, please consider being a clinic sponsor and contact United Way Nevada County (email: admin@uwnc.org or call 530 274-8111) to find out how.

Volunteer. The CareForce team requires licensed professional providers (in optical, dental, chiropractic, physical therapy, social work, and medical fields) including doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, EMTs, and medical assistants. And as long as you are 18 or older (Hey, Bear River, NU, and other high school seniors!), you can serve the flow of attendees from the parking lot all the way through to the care finish line.

Visit United Way at http://www.uwnc.org/HealthClinic to donate or volunteer. Let us make this a really grand community healing event!

Jonathan Pierce, MD, lives in Nevada City.

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