How To Open a Free Health Clinic

If your community has been hard hit with job losses and retrenchments of employee benefits such as health insurance, it's likely that local residents could benefit from the establishments of a free health clinic.

It's important to draw an accurate profile of your patient base so that you can adequately stock and staff your free health clinic.  Will your clientele be primarily bilingual? Will they be patients of all ages as opposed to one particular market such as the elderly or children? Do you want your clinic to specialize in a particular niche like women's health care?  Area hospitals and your local health department can provide a clearer picture of the uninsured audience of patients most likely to patronize a free health clinic in your area.

The estimated cost for running a free health clinic one day a week averages as much as $5,000 using volunteer help, so you will want to create a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization for tax purposes and tap into as many fund-raising networking channels as you have available.

See if a local hospital is willing to offer space for your free clinic before you begin scouting other locations. If not, make sure that you select a facility that is easily accessible to public transportation, has enough room to accommodate a waiting room as well as two exam areas, an on-site restroom as well as accessibility for the handicapped.  Ask an insurance specialist for direction regarding securing insurance on the physical property as well as malpractice insurance to cover health care practitioners who volunteer at the clinic.

In addition to securing the volunteer services of a team of doctors and nurses to staff the clinic, you are also likely to need office help, legal assistance, accounting help, as well as guidance from individuals savvy with marketing and fund-raising. Fund-raising must be an ongoing activity, as you will need to solicit donations and funds on an constant basis to keep the clinic viable and open.

Office supplies as well as medical supplies necessary to stock the free health clinic might include a reception desk and chairs, waiting room chairs, exam tables, lighting, filing cabinets and other medical equipment such as thermometers, blood pressure gages, and basic first aid supplies. Some or all of these may be donated by a local hospital or secured from wholesalers either via donation or at a reduced rate for non-profit organizations.

Set up a partnership with your local pharmacy in order to secure free pharmaceutical samples as well as to set up a billing system for patient prescriptions.

Hold several high-visibility special fund-raising events, such as community picnics and entertainment events as one way to advertise the fact that your free clinic is opening for business.


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