Kathy Turner is in a unique situation. She works for Angels Attic, but can’t afford health insurance. So, when she noticed she wasn’t feeling quite like her-self, she followed the advice of her co-workers and went to the clinic her work supports where she was diagnosed with diabetes.
"It was a shock to me. It wasn’t like it would be a horrible diagnosis like some people have received, but for me it was heart wrenching in a way. "
While the diabetes diagnosis was helpful it led to another problem, the continued cost of her healthcare. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services the average yearly cost for treatment of diabetes is more than $13,000.
"I wouldn’t have any choice, I would have to… if they did not give me the strips, if I didn’t have them I would not be able to keep track of whether the medicine is working. I would have to simply not eat. I couldn’t afford it."
Once again the clinic stepped in. Turner, who could not afford the medication, testing strips and doctors visits, receives all of these supplies and services from the Angels Clinic for free. And Kathy isn’t the only person in the Murray area who gets help from the Angel’s Attic and Clinic. Angels Clinic Board Vice Chair Donna Herndon.
"We have had 28,684 patient visits since the clinic was open in February of 2000."
In 2009, the average cost of an outpatient visit to a hospital without insurance was $642. So the Angels Clinic administered care equivalent to 18 million dollars in the private healthcare industry.
This total doesn’t take into account the amount of medications dispensed to those who are in need. To date, the clinic has administered massive amounts free medications to its patients.
"We have dispensed $6,958,941 worth of free pharmaceuticals out of the clinic."
Herndon says those meds came from agencies that provide low cost or free access to some medications. The clinic also cuts costs by using volunteer physicians, pharmacists and dentists. The clinic does staff an office manager and nurse practitioner. The partner thrift shop raises funds to support much of the staff expenses. Attic Cofounder Rose Albritten says in ten years the Attic’s fundraising has exceeded her expectations:
"I don’t think we ever thought we would have raised over 1.3 million dollars by this point."
This total is staggering when compared to the $20,000 of seed money used to open the shop 10 years ago. Herndon says the Attic now finances 85% of the Clinic’s operations, keeping those who work but cannot afford the rising cost of healthcare covered.
"There will always be people that fall through the cracks; there will always be people whose needs are not met with existing programs. We don’t know exactly how that will all work out, but we’re ready."
Looking to the future, Herndon says the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act may change the Clinic’s clientele, but not its mission. With the Attic behind it, the clinic staff and volunteers will continue focusing on their primary goal, helping people like Kathy Turner.