Enabling self-sufficiency (finding and keeping a job and affordable housing) will effectively address homelessness. However, health issues can become significant barriers to self-sufficiency and can cause or prolong homelessness.
Over these past two years, homeless women without children living in shelters increased 66% and homeless families (women with children) living in shelters increased 17% (source: 2014 and 2015 Mecklenburg County Point-In-Time Homeless study). The clinic is located within the Salvation Army Center of Hope shelter, the regions largest shelter for women and children. The Center of Hope is over capacity, housing more than 400 residents a night. All Center of Hope shelter residents can access the free clinic simply by showing the shelter ID. The Center of Hope is the largest concentration of homeless women and children in the County.
Our clients are: 1) uninsured (80% do not have Medicaid. The network of Medicaid services and providers are not available to them); 2) living in poverty (85% report income of less than 85% FPL. Fee-for-service and sliding scale clinic are unaffordable); 3) medically indigent (without the free clinic they would lack a medical home, primary care and continuity of care); 4) homeless (living in the Center of Hope shelter).
For those with Medicaid it is not easy to access care. They are experiencing fewer provider Medicaid slots, longer wait for appointments, rarely waived fees and co-pays and usually there is a need for transportation. With these obstacles to access, even those with Medicaid have to rely on the free clinic for some of their healthcare.
Children represent 34% of the clinic's clients, half are between the ages of 0-5. Asthma and anemia are diagnosed in 25% of children clients. Children living in poverty develop asthma at a rate 6-times that of nonpoverty children. Anemia is also prevalent due to poor nutrition.
74% are African-Americans. African American women develop hypertension and diabetes at a rate nearly 2-times that of Caucasian women. Leading causes of death for African Americans in North Carolina are diseases of the heart (#1) and diabetes (#4). African-American women have a similar rate of breast cancer as do Caucasian women, but have a higher death rate. Our collaboration with Novant Cancer Center brings their mammogram van to the clinic for free preventive mammograms and discussion groups on Breast Health and Cancer Prevention.
Annually more than 1,000 unique clients are provided care. 35% are children. Half of these children are ages 0 to 5 years
Annually there are more than 5,000 total clinic visits. This represents more than 5 visits per client for follow-up and to address new health issues
All services are provided free including nursing and provider care, diagnostic screens and labs, prescription and OTC medications, in-clinic treatments and health information. Our collaborative partners also provide their services free to our referral clients or if there is a charge, the clinic is billed for payment.
Level III Accreditation by N. C. Association of Free & Charitable Clinics, the highest level of accountability for free clinics
Selected as the clinical site for Carolinas Medical Center Family Medicine's Community Medicine Program in FY16 (ended June 30, 2016). Renewed for FY17
BBB Certified Charity Seal holder
Member in good standing of National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, North Carolina Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, MedLink, Homeless Services Network and Advisory Board of Mecklenburg County Coordinated Assessment