Community Health Hero: People’s Health Clinic

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People’s Health Clinic, Park City, Utah: Park City, Utah, is an outdoor sports and entertainment utopia. Some 600,000 people a year pass through to visit its world-class ski resorts, which hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics, or attend the Sundance Film Festival. For many of the 8,000 full-time residents, something is missing: Regular access to quality healthcare.

As with many communities that thrive on tourism, those working in hospitality comprise the city’s most vulnerable residents—they’re the housekeeping and resort staff that make Park City and Deer Valley ski resorts into winter paradises; they’re the landscapers and restaurant workers that help make the area’s streams sparkle with activity all summer. Access to preventative and maintenance healthcare was once unattainable for those working hard to ensure residents and tourists enjoy the best of Park City, until a few concerned citizens took action.

It was an unlikely trio: A Catholic priest, physician and a local businessman who held a health fair out of a rented van in a parking lot. The first event was 20 years ago and over 700 people showed up—it was then they knew something more must be done for the underinsured of their community.

“Our local Catholic priest, Bob Bussen, noticed a lot of his parishioners had no access to healthcare,” said Dr. John Hanrahan. “We got a group together and set up a mobile van because we knew there was no way to reach the population that needed us by television or newspaper.”

The movement picked up steam and soon the three founded The People’s Health Clinic. The newly formed clinic collaborated with local healthcare group Intermountain Health Care to create a health clinic with only two requirements for treatment: you must be uninsured and live in Summit or Wasatch county.

“We believe down to our core that everyone deserves quality healthcare, not just those who can afford it,” said Beth Armstrong, executive director of People’s Health Clinic.

Over the two decades, the clinic has existed, the number of services it provides has grown drastically.

“At the start, our patients couldn’t afford blood tests or medications, and now they have access to four-dollar prescriptions through Walmart, and we have grants to pay for lab work. I can now provide the same care at the clinic that I provide in my private practice,” said Dr. Hanrahan.

“We do almost everything. We provide chronic illness care to those with diabetes or high blood pressure. We offer prenatal and women’s healthcare, pediatric care, along with both vision and dental care. We see about 40 patients a day, and we take walk-ins, too,” said Armstrong.

The clinic runs on less than a million dollars per year, made possible by grants and partnerships and 150 volunteer physicians.

“That’s how we’re able to do this, with our volunteer physicians, many are pediatricians,” Armstrong explained.

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