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Cville Free Clinic marks 30th anniversary with no celebration

When Charlottesville’s Free Clinic opened in 1992, volunteers and staff saw it as a stop-gap until this country offered universal healthcare. Director Susan Sherman says they are still waiting.

Charlottesville Free Clinic w background.jpg
Charlottesville Free Clinic
The Charlottesville Free Clinic is one of about 65 around the state.

“We don’t feel like it’s really something to celebrate, because we wish we could put ourselves out of business.”

Expansion of Medicaid did, at first, reduce demand.

“And then the pandemic hit and people lost their jobs, and they lost insurance," she recalls. "Our numbers climbed back up really fast. We see more and more patients every year.”

Fortunately, about 800 healthcare professionals volunteer their time, and because there’s no paperwork for insurance companies or government programs, doctors, nurses and pharmacists can do what they’re trained to do.

“They’re not having to worry about coding and billing and how many times they are able to see a patient," Sherman explains. "If we have to see a patient two times in three weeks, we see a patient two times in three weeks.”

And she says they’re happy to spare patients some difficult decisions.

“Do I put food on the table for my kids, or do I go get my mammogram, and 99.9% of the time they’re going to choose to feed their kids.”

The clinic offers primary and preventive care along with a dozen different specialties. It’s currently serving about 3,000 patients.

Sandy Hausman is Radio IQ's Charlottesville Bureau Chief