People’s Health celebrates 10 years | ParkRecord.com

People’s Health celebrates 10 years

by Andrew Kirk, OF THE RECORD STAFF

The People’s Health Clinic has come a long way in 10 years, said Executive Director Nann Worel, and it’s time to celebrate. A 10th anniversary fundraiser will be held Nov. 15 at Temple Har Shalom from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

The clinic began in a trailer and is now housed in a state-of-the-art facility shared with the Summit County Health Department at Quinn’s Junction.

"It’s grown like you wouldn’t believe," Worel said Monday.

Fewer than 1,000 people were served the first year. More than 6,000 were served last year. Most of that growth has occurred in the last four years.

The People’s Health Clinic serves the uninsured in Summit County. When the local economy took off in 2006, so did patient visits. When the economy tanked in 2008, the clinic became even more important to the community, Worel explained.

It is now seeing more people than ever with chronic illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and asthma.

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Worel estimates that 85 percent of patients have an underlying chronic illness. Such conditions can be helped with early treatment, but people without insurance don’t usually seek early treatment, she said.

That’s why screenings are becoming a focus of the clinic.

"We’re gearing up to do more prevention," she said.

The greatest success of the clinic, Worel said, has been its ability to maintain the high quality of care it provides as its patient load expanded.

That level of care which may soon include dentistry if funding is available relies on donations to continue, she said.

Every year the clinic benefits from grants and local government funding, but the biggest piece of its budget comes from private donations made individually or at fundraising events, she said.

Patients are asked to make a donation at the time of their visits.

"People tend to value what they pay for," she explained. "About 90 percent of patients contribute toward their care."

But that recommended donation is about $15 per visit so as to never discourage people from seeking help, she said.

With a budget made up of six different sources of income, securing continued funding has always been the clinic’s greatest challenge, Worel said.

The annual anniversary celebration is the clinic’s largest and primary fundraiser of the year and accounts for one of the largest pieces of that budget pie, she explained.

But in addition to asking for donations, the anniversary is a time to celebrate what the clinic has accomplished. With this being the 10th year, Worel said she’s especially touched as she thinks back to how the community began in a trailer.

"It’s unbelievable where we’ve come from it just shows the support from the community we’ve had," she said. "This clinic is a safety net for people without insurance."

No reservation or ticket is needed to attend the Nov. 15 event. Birthday cakes from 15 local bakers have been donated and attendees will be asked to vote on how they look and taste, she said.

"It’s free to attend, but please give birthday presents in the form of checks to the clinic we count very heavily on people making end-of-year donations," she said.

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