The National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics (NAFC) announced today that Direct Relief, a longtime partner of the NAFC, will be distributing a $1 million grant program to the NAFC to support Free and Charitable Clinics and Charitable Pharmacies during this COVID-19 pandemic.
2 million people receive access to health care through America’s 1,400 Free and Charitable Clinics and Charitable Pharmacies each year. These organizations operate with little to no government funding and instead rely on the support of donors, partners and 207,000 volunteers, including 106,000 medical volunteers.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Free and Charitable Clinics and Charitable Pharmacies are having to adjust their service models to deal with limiting disease exposure and stay at home orders, while making sure that their patients have access to the care they need. Many clinics have started utilizing telehealth to limit in person visits while maintaining connection with their patients. Some clinics have increased their medication assistance programs and have created a drive through at their facility to ensure patients are able to get their needed prescriptions. And while clinics are working hard to continue their services, they are also dealing with having to cancel fundraisers, seeing lower donations and a potential influx of patients as people across the nation continue to lose their employment.
“Our Free and Charitable Clinics and Pharmacies are on the frontlines of this pandemic,” said Nicole Lamoureux, NAFC President and CEO. “If our clinics aren’t there, people have no other option than to go to the emergency room, the one place that should be avoided. Our members are grassroots medicine at its finest, working hard daily with dwindling resources and no federal government financial support to keep 2 million people out of the emergency departments so hospitals can care for their patients. The support we receive from our partner Direct Relief shows what a thought leader the organization is, recognizing the need for our clinics to continue their important work.”
“In this time of crisis, it is more important than ever that the country’s free clinics can continue helping the least fortunate people stay healthy and out of the hospital,” said Damon Taugher, Vice President of Global Programs at Direct Relief. “Free clinics are critical providers of care for the most medically vulnerable in communities across the country.”
The funding from Direct Relief will provide much needed support for NAFC members as they navigate through this pandemic. NAFC member organizations will be able to apply for funding to cover costs related to implementing telehealth, medication access, and general operational support, which can include COVID-19 related costs such as testing and personal protective equipment (PPE).