Hundreds of people who rely on a free clinic in Franklin County could lose life-saving health care. The clinic is trying to fill a $90,000 shortfall.
“If we didn't have the clinic I wouldn't be able to see a doctor right now,” said patient Shirley Sartin.
Sartin is seeing a doctor at the Franklin County Free Clinic. This is her only option for health care.
“If I didn't have them giving me the medicine that I need and help that way, I could end up in the hospital or even worse,” said Sartin.
It's a hospital bill that she can't afford. And she's not alone.
In 2010 the clinic had 800 visits. Fast forward to 2012, nearly 2,300 visits. The expansion of services and patients is leaving the clinic in a financial hole, and they don't want to be forced to close.
Decreasing services and hours would save money but it would spell trouble for those who are not insured.
“We would have to decrease the amount of services that we are providing. I never want to say that we are going to shut our doors,” said clinic executive director Alise Culbertson.
“We would end up not being able to provide the chronic ongoing care for the medical problems. The consequences of that are that, those health problems would go untreated,” said clinic physician Dr. John Merten.
It's the reality that Sartin and hundreds of others face in a time of personal financial struggles if the clinic doesn't receive other funding. It relies on donations from the public and from grants.
“People like me, who don't have no employment; no insurance, if you don't have someone helping you at the clinic, what are you going to do? You do without and then you're going to suffer in the long run,” said Sartin.