By Sharon Adams
There’s nothing simple about the state of health care in America, and many people have already made up their minds about who to blame for it being broken.
But as important health care reform is debated and implemented, doctors and health care practitioners quietly continue to make a difference every day in Denver’s communities.
For instance, the Inner City Health Center provides health care services to anyone regardless of ability to pay. It’s done on a modest budget without any federal funding. Last year alone, the doctors, nurse practitioners and other health care providers (some of them volunteers) provided more than 24,000 patient-visits to people who had few options for care.
The patients at these clinics are men, women, children and seniors. Many are employed full-time, some are stay-at-home parents and some are retired after decades of work. Some are children who live with families caught in the margins.
In some cases the people who seek health services have no insurance, oftentimes because they work full-time but for a business with fewer than 50 people. Others are unemployed or simply unable to afford full coverage. In other cases they have insurance but some doctors won’t accept their insurance, or the deductibles and/or co-pays are too expensive for the patient to afford to see a provider.
In all cases, these people are just like you and me: members of our community who need access to health care.
In the Denver metro area, seeing a doctor can be an extraordinary challenge. There are only about a dozen community safety net clinics that open their doors to all patients. Even persons covered by Medicare and Medicaid may struggle to find a doctor who will accept all types of insurance, which means they rely on a safety net clinic all the more.
So much attention is paid to the over-arching policies of our nation’s health care system. But instead of looking at this issue from that vantage point, I’d like to take a moment to recognize Denver’s clinics that continue to meet the needs of our community. They include the Inner City Health Center and about 50 additional community safety net clinics across our state where doctors, nurses and other professionals selflessly work to ensure that all people have access to health care.
Today, think what access to a doctor, physician’s assistant, nurse or other provider means to you and your family and your community. And let’s recognize those whose commitment provides essential access to health care in Denver.
Sharon Adams is the executive director of ClinicNET, Colorado’s association for nonprofit community clinics, free clinics, residency clinics and other safety net providers that are not federally qualified health centers. Safety Net Clinic Week across Colorado was held this month to recognize the community safety net clinics who ensure that our state’s residents have access to care.