A healthy heart at the Rhode Island Free Clinic

A fifty-four-year-old construction worker, Julio was left without health insurance and access to medical care when he unexpectedly lost his job. This would be a concern for anyone, but more so for Julio, who has a serious heart condition. It was more than a year before Julio was connected to the Rhode Island Free Clinic.

The Rhode Island Free Clinic is a nationally-recognized, award-winning free clinic that provides a medical home for uninsured adults, ages 19-65, who earn less than 200% of the federal poverty level. According to the Clinic, Julio was not alone. Nearly 50,000 low-income men and women in our state still are not eligible or cannot afford healthcare.

“Rhode Island Free Clinic is like a doctor’s office that you pay for with insurance, but better,” Julio said. “Everybody’s always paying attention to what I need and checking in. Everybody is so friendly.”

At his first appointment, Julio immediately received prescriptions for his heart condition and high blood pressure, which he filled for free through the Clinic’s partnership with CVS Health. He was also referred to a cardiologist.

“If I didn’t have this care and the right heart medicine,” he said. “I don’t know what would happen. Here I am, getting the care I need.”

Since becoming a patient, Julio has seen a primary care doctor, cardiologist, pulmonologist, and podiatrist. And, when his health stabilized, his primary care doctor referred him to a nutritionist because of his struggle with weight. With education and support, he is slowly making progress that he hadn’t been able to make before. And he hopes to pay it forward.

“I want to do whatever I can to help the Clinic, not just for myself, but for everyone in the program,” Julio said. “This is something the community needs. Thank you to everyone who gives their time and money to make this possible.”

In 2015-2016, United Way of Rhode Island, with the help of donors, invested $573,000 in basic needs programs, including the Rhode Island Free Clinic.

Interested in learning more about the Rhode Island Free Clinic? The Rhode Island Free Clinic provides nearly 7,000 patient visits annually to over 2,000 patients by mobilizing their active statewide corps of over 700 volunteers and community partners, a lean professional staff of 7 full-time equivalents, and 7 AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers. They all share a belief that healthcare should be available for all, regardless of income.