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One-Day Clinic Serves Hundreds Of Uninsured In Kansas City Metro

Cody Newill
Volunteers were posted outside makeshift doctors offices at the NAFC and KC C.A.R.E. clinic at Bartle Hall Saturday.

Hundreds of uninsured citizens flooded into Bartle Hall in Kansas City Saturday for one reason: to see a doctor.

The National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics collaborated with KC C.A.R.E. to bring 1,300 doctors, nurses and other volunteers to the city for a one-day free clinic.

The most common ailments doctors saw were high blood pressure, complications due to diabetes and severe dental problems. 

KC C.A.R.E. CEO Sheri Wood says that even though the one-day clinic served 1,600 appointments and hundreds of walk-ins, she wishes it wouldn't have to exist in the first place.

"Patients should not have to come to a clinic like this," Wood said. "These are people who do not qualify for any assistance or even to buy insurance on the marketplace. So really, the expansion of Medicaid for this community and both [Missouri and Kansas] is critical."

Dr. Craig Dietz with the C.A.R.E. Clinic agreed with Wood's sentiment.

Credit Cody Newill / KCUR
Trucks from Truman Medical Centers and all the other Safety Net healthcare providers in the metro were at the clinic.

"Generic medications at discount drugs stores, they're not that [expensive]," Dietz said. "But to get in to see a doctor? It can cost $100, $200 plus to be a new patient at a doctor's office if you can even find someone who'll take you without insurance."

In addition to free exams, the volunteer doctors also referred patients to safety net clinics across the metro and 90-day supplies of prescription drugs. And for people like Joe Davis, a Kansas City resident who has been in and out of homelessness for the past 20 years, that's a big relief.

"I go to the C.A.R.E. Clinics because I don't have money or any way to get to another doctor," Davis said. "I need help with my medicine because I'm unemployed and don't have income." 

If Medicaid were expanded, it's estimated that up to 300,000 Missourians and 150,000 Kansans would qualify. But the issue has gained little traction with legislators on both sides of the state line. 

Cody Newill is part of KCUR's audience development team. Follow him on Twitter @CodyNewill or email him at cody@kcur.org.
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