Clinic needs more volunteer docs
January 30, 2009
A state representative in Summit County wants to make it easier for retired doctors to volunteer at underserved health centers like the People’s Health Clinic in Park City.
Rep. Mel Brown, R-Coalville, sponsored House Bill 121, which would issue volunteer health practitioner licenses to retired doctors.
Summit County Councilman John Hanrahan, who helped found the People’s Health Clinic, said he convinced Brown to sponsor the legislation because it is difficult for the health center that serves uninsured patients in Park City to keep volunteer doctors on staff.
"You won’t have to sit for exams [and] you could maintain an inactive license," Hanrahan said about provisions in the bill. "It’s really exciting. I think it will help [the People’s Health Clinic] get volunteers."
The bill, which is being debated in the House of Representatives, would waive fees for receiving a volunteer health practitioner license and would limit the practice of the practitioner to exclusive charity care at charity locations, he explained.
"You couldn’t get paid for it," Hanrahan said.
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Most retried physicians do not have active licenses to practice medicine in Utah, which can cost several hundred dollars to maintain, he said.
"The issue is, if you are retired and you don’t have an active license my experience has been, you can’t practice," Hanrahan said.
Meanwhile, each volunteer health provider could allow the People’s Health Clinic to serve an additional eight patients every two hours.
"Our nighttime clinic is totally dependant on volunteers," said Cecily Huff Smith, clinic director at the People’s Health Clinic. "We really depend on volunteer providers to be successful."
Many states have laws similar to HB 121, she said.
"It would allow us to have more volunteer providers to come into the clinic," Huff Smith said. "The amount of patients we can see is based on how many medical providers that we have, and if you do not have a current license in Utah, you cannot practice."