Free clinics experiencing an overwhelming influx of patients
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19NEWS) -- Free clinics across Virginia are busier than ever these days.
“We have seen an increasing number of patients. A lot of this is people delaying care because of COVID, and now people are feeling comfortable and starting to come back to the doctor,” Charlottesville Free Clinic Interim Chief Development Officer Willa Barnhardt said.
The Charlottesville Free Clinic saw a 15% increase in patients between 2022 and 2023.
“We served 2300 patients in 2022 compared to 2700 patients in 2023,” Barnhardt said.
This demand expands beyond Charlottesville. The Virginia Association for Free and Charitable clinics reported that patient numbers across the state increased 19% between 2021 to 2022.
One explanation for the spike in demand is the financial burden of healthcare costs. Many of the patients at the free clinic in Charlottesville do not have medical insurance.
“They are usually working, and they make too much for Medicaid but not enough to afford health insurance in this market,” Barnhardt said.
Barnhardt said that many of the volunteer doctors are employed by Sentara or UVA Health and put in extra hours outside of their jobs to come and help those who need the free care most.
She said that people can see if they qualify for the free clinic through their website, cvillefreeclinic.org.