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Opinion

Local clinic working to be part of the solution

I had a unique opportunity this week to visit the Tri-City Health Partnership clinic in downtown St. Charles. For those of you unaware, as I was, of all that the people there are doing, the clinic is a special place. It offers completely free medical and dental services, with no support from the government, to patients in need from the Tri-Cities and across central Kane County.

Local doctors, nurses and dentists volunteer their time every week to meet with patients. Prescription medicine and other supplies are typically obtained through donations and grants.

This makes supporting the clinic a challenge, but also affords the folks who operate it some special opportunities.

First off, and perhaps most important, TCHP sets its own parameters for need. One of the groups it serves is made up of those neighbors who are both employed and uninsured.

These are often our service workers – the waitresses or bartenders, the hair stylists, the retail sales associates, even the freelance reporters – who are consistently employed in one, or often more than one, part-time job without insurance benefits.

They work hard to make ends meet and build a life for themselves until they get sick, or their kids get sick, and there’s no co-pay to be found. Often these folks slip through the cracks, making too much money to have the government bestow medical benefits upon them, yet too little to afford private insurance.

TCHP sets its parameters for free service to cover much of this gap and the families who fall into it.

Additionally, because of the volunteer nature of the medical staff, services are offered by appointment only. While this can be challenging, it also means patients know when they will be seen. There’s no need to drag a sick kid to an overcrowded public clinic with no idea how long it will take to reach a doctor. Appointments can be set up in advance and scheduled around work, with the ability to accommodate child care.

Speaking of those long lines and crowded clinics, it’s worth mentioning that TCHP operates right in the heart of St. Charles on a quiet, tree-lined street. TCHP is in a converted home with a welcoming front porch that is walking distance from many of its patients. For those farther away, a partnership with Lyft car service covers transport to and from the clinic for those who need it.

When I spoke with executive director Kim Lamansky, I asked her what I could do to help. Her answer: Get the word out. So that’s what I am doing.

If you know of someone in the area who could use this free clinic, tell them about it. If you work with a church or a service group, or are an employer of part-time staff without benefits, call Kim for brochures and put them in the lobby, the office or the break room.

And if you are a local medical professional or know one in the neighborhood, this clinic needs your help. It’s an opportunity to serve the greater good without the constraints of insurance company demands and government-sponsored healthcare stipulations.

Visit tchpfreeclinic.org to find out more. Be part of the solution, right here in our own community.

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