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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Mercy's We Care Clinic closing next month

  • A Mercy health clinic, available twice a month in Rolla, that serves individuals without insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, will be closing its doors next month.
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  • A Mercy health clinic, available twice a month in Rolla, that serves individuals without insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, will be closing its doors next month.
    The We Care Clinic, located at 1100 W. 10th St. in Rolla, will see patients for the last time Tuesday, May 6.
    The clinic is shutting down in support of the new Your Community Health Center that opened in late February at the nearby Phelps County Regional Medical Center (PCRMC) Medical Office Building.
    Dr. Randall Huss, M.D., president of the Mercy Clinics - Rolla division, said he has had several discussions with Amy Beechner-McCarthy, new CEO of the Your Community Health Center, and John Denbo, CEO of PCRMC, about how to help meet the health needs of the uninsured in this area.
    With the new community health center now operational, Huss said he felt that center could now meet the needs of people in a more coordinated effort.
    The We Care Clinic opened about seven years ago and free services were offered just one night a week at that time. The clinic later expanded hours and for some time, on the first and third Tuesday of each month, volunteer physicians and nurses operated the clinic from 6 to 9 p.m.
    The clinic was designed to focus on the health care needs of the uninsured, primarily the “working poor,” Huss said, such as “individuals with chronic illnesses who couldn’t afford to go to the doctor ... or who couldn’t afford to get lab tests done.”
    Huss said Mercy is trying to spread the word about the We Care Clinic closing, and for the past several weeks, volunteer staff have provided people who come to the clinic or call the clinic with applications to become patients at Your Community Health Center.
    Huss said Mercy staff would be happy to send the applications to the We Care Clinic patients.
    “We hope to have a smooth transition and provide records as needed,” Huss said.
    The We Care Clinic has always been run by volunteer physicians, including Huss.
    While many nurses and physicians who worked or volunteered at the clinic have daytime jobs at Mercy and will continue to do so after this clinic shuts, Huss said there were also many retired nurses and physicians outside of the Mercy network who simply volunteered their time at the clinic.
    “We are a truly ‘free’ clinic and charge or receive no money for our services,” Huss stated in a story on Mercy’s website from July 2013, when the We Care Clinic celebrated its sixth anniversary. “We rely on the honor system for patients meeting the qualifications to use the services of the clinic. For that reason, we don’t have to keep financial records on patients ... Through the generosity of our suppliers, we’re able to offer free lab tests used to manage most chronic conditions. Mercy absorbs the costs of basic X-rays and heart tests like electrocardiograms.”
    Page 2 of 2 - While Your Community Health Center may not be free to patients, Huss said people will be able to get more services at a reduced fee, depending on their income.
    Huss said that the We Care Clinic has served about 1,500 to 1,600 unique patients while it has been open.
    Over the years, Huss said there are many things that stand out to him about the We Care Clinic, mostly the relationships between the staff and patients and making a difference in people’s lives.
    “It would never fail that I’d go home from volunteering at the clinic and have a good feeling in my heart that we've done some good,” Huss said.
    Huss said the clinic has been a “wonderful opportunity” and that since it opened, Mercy staff wanted to reach a point in time where the clinic was no longer needed and that health care would become more accessible.
    While he said there is still some work to do on that front, he feels that Your Community Health Center is a step toward that end.
    Huss said some patients at the We Care Clinic have gone on to get insurance through a job or another means, so that they no longer use the We Care Clinic.
    However, he noted that there is still a “huge gap” out there of people who can’t qualify for Medicaid or they make too much to get assistance with insurance through the Affordable Care Act.
    Because the state Legislature has chosen not to expand Medicaid in Missouri, there are still many people without health insurance coverage, Huss said.

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