Perspectives: One small community takes one large step in health care solution

Image by Brett Barrett, St. George News

OPINION – President Obama, I hope you are listening.

I am about to do something unheard of. I am going to tell you about a health care solution that does not require the government’s involvement.

Washington County, Utah, has a solution that provides health care to the many uninsured and underinsured in Southern Utah. In fact, the answer is so simplistic; you will wonder why communities around the country are not clamoring to solve their own health care issues.

The Doctors Volunteer Clinic, located in the heart of St.George, Utah, started 13 years ago on a vision, a prayer and a hope, that the citizens in the community would step up to help those in need.

Operating entirely on generous community and business grants and a small donation from the patients that they service, the DVC has become a lifesaver to about 12,000 residents each year who rely on the clinic for their medical care.

The DVC currently has 13 doctors that volunteer their time on a regular basis, about one day a week, along with two volunteer nurses. Of the doctors, some are retired and some are practicing physicians; among them are an oncologist, multiple family practitioners, a gynecologist and a nephrologist.

Volunteer McKenzie Felt-Dye mans reception at the Doctors Volunteer Clinic, St. George, Utah, Sept. 13, 2012 | Photo by Kate Dalley, St. George News

Seven mental health providers, including a psychiatrist, see patients on a regular basis and five dentists volunteer their time to assist patients who have basic dental needs. Adding the services of mental health and dentistry were vital to the clinic; it can provide all around health care and now more services than many other free clinics around the country.

McKenzie Felt-Dye has been volunteering for about five years off and on. With a big smile, she said:

“I have been volunteering since I was in high school and have really enjoyed helping people. Throughout college, I involved myself in social issues and studied health care reform and I believe in the mission of the clinic to provide health care for the people who need it. It’s a great thing.”

It takes about 40 big-hearted volunteers and an operating budget of about $200,000 a year to run the clinic. None of those funds comes from the government. Wal-Mart, for example, donated funds last year to the clinic through a community grant that covered a small portion of the operating budget. Felt-Dye was instrumental in donating her time to help secure that grant.

But, they need more donations and our community can help.

Patients are asked to make a $5-10 donation when they visit the clinic but some patients give more.

Veterans, who need care but cannot get an appointment at facilities administered by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs with their extensive waiting lists, are always welcome at the clinic for more immediate attention if they need it.

When a patient needs additional tests that would otherwise be very expensive, such as MRIs or blood tests, Intermountain Healthcare Southwest Region at Dixie Regional Medical Center donates vouchers for services that only require a small $50 fee.

There are eligibility requirements for income and the clinic does not accept Medicaid or Medicare; Kathy Taylor, medical assistant and office coordinator, said the red tape would be too cumbersome to the DVC.

The DVC allows pre-med students from the Rural Health Scholars Program at Southern Utah University and Dixie College to volunteer their time and Taylor said that the hands-on experience helps them to decide if the medical program is the path for themselves.

With unemployment rising and the recession in full swing, the clinic has witnessed about a 40 percent increase in office visits in the last two years.

If every community had a clinic similar to the DVC, would we need our taxpayer dollars to pay for expensive health care programs? People want to help others.

We grow as a nation when the character of our citizens is enhanced from helping the needy.

Dr. Paul Doxey and Nurse Practitioner Deanne Staheli were instrumental in the DVC becoming a reality and thousands benefit each year from the invaluable services they provide. Staheli started with the clinic at its inception 13 years ago and remains hands-on as the operating manager of the clinic.

The Obama Administration could heed the example of this low-budget clinic. We do not need forced health care and a forced tax. When people are compelled to help one another out of a strong desire to serve, great things can happen within a community; people start caring about each other.

Cities can use their own resources, their own qualified physicians who desire to give back, their own wonderfully caring volunteers and the help of the their local residents to care for the uninsured.

Alternatives do exist without ridiculous federal regulations, red tape, funding or committees of overpaid government employees sitting at official government desks.

We just need to be good neighbors; people helping people.

 

Kate Dalley is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are hers and not representative of St. George News.

Email: kated@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.

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10 Comments

  • Shannon September 14, 2012 at 11:57 am

    Awesome article Kate!

    Thank you for telling people about the Doctors’ Volunteer Clinic! I am honored to be a part of such a helpful and needed facility!

  • Ron September 14, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    I agree that, for the most part, this is an excellent article about a great service. But why do you find it necessary to go on the attack with comment about :”overpaid government employees sitting at official government desks”? What on earth is the motivation behind that comment? Government employment is work like most other work. Some employees do a good job; some don’t. Most of the jobs they do are necessary; perhaps some are not (debatable). And how do YOU determine what is fair pay and what isn’t? Your thoughtless stereotyping of an entire group of people who are working to support families (and stay off welfare–isn’t that one of your bugaboos?) isn’t worthy of you and undermines the rest of the article. Disappointed, to say the least.

  • Peter September 15, 2012 at 7:57 am

    We just need to help our neighbor? Really? That is your solution? No doubt the DVC offers an amazing solution for many people but does that solve health care. Why don’t you just write about the great service the DVC performs and be done with it instead of taking on a topic like solving healthcare that is way too big for you.

    “If everyone would just…” solves all of the world’s problems not just health care. I really liked the show Polyanna too but that is not the world we live in is it?

  • Pheo September 17, 2012 at 9:15 am

    As a physician that has provided services for the DVC, I want to thank you for highlighting this great success in our community.

    However, to suggest that this is the solution to the problem of uninsured and underinsured individuals is too simplistic. Your cheap shot on valued government programs could easily be rewritten thusly: “Alternatives do exist without ridiculous insurance company restrictions, red tape, funding or committees of overpaid insurance company employees, or a need to provide a profit to stockholders, none of whom provide one iota of medical care to anyone.”

  • Mike H September 17, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Once again conservative blah blah blah from someone who just wants to rage at Obama. SMDH
    I applaud and appreciate the clinic and the services they provide, but what I find telling is that this is mostly intended for common illnesses and perhaps some preventative care but what about problems that necessitate surgery oh wise one?
    Your answer is so clear, I mean you say so in your article. It’s obvious how stupid everyone is as far as you are concerned, but what about emergency services. I have two friends who have excellent insurance and they still find themselves in financial hardship due to unplanned surgeries.
    It’s apparent you have insurance, and as is so common for those people that do, you love to tell how other people should take care of their own, even though you have employer provided insurance.
    People like me would find themselves facing possible bankruptcy due to an appendix or even tonsils. I tried to pay for my own insurance and the only stuff I could afford was aflac and we all know that is only supplemental. My work cut my pay so guess what was the first thing I dropped.
    Just like bigoted religious people who are able to get married decide to keep others from it, insured people are all over keeping other people from enjoying the same coverage and security.
    The Canadian and European health care programs are not ideal, but knowing many people from both areas I can tell you that none of them have to worry about losing their homes thanks to a burst appendix or ignore their health from fear of not being able pay the doctor.
    But let’s do it your way.

    • Dsull September 17, 2012 at 9:05 pm

      Funny, I pay for my health insurance, and I don’t make that much. Granted, I drive an older truck, and my wife an older car. We don’t have the toys and items that some of our friends do, but we have insurance for us and our children, and we get by just fine. I’m not saying that you are not the same, but I listen to people I work with complain about not being able to afford health care before jumping into their shiny cars and heading to the lake. Barring making minimal income, most people can afford insurance, they just have somewhere else to put the money. A nice Rhino, or Ski-boat takes precedence over health insurance for many I know up until they get injured. If you do make minimum wage, there is a program called medicaid that pays for those people.
      I would love a nice shiny pickup like a lot of people in this area, but I want more for my kids to be healthy.

      • Mike H September 18, 2012 at 8:44 am

        Yeah, I have a 14 year old Wrangler that’s paid for, a used motorcycle, and a 100k house. And a 4th or 5th hand 1000k boat. I am all by my onesie so I have to pay for my own things I don’t have a two income family. I make a whopping $12 an hour and just started a second job. So tell me again where I am wasting my money, and how I should be able to afford insurance. I prefer to try and put away a little money but even that has become a bit rough lately. Sure, every other weekend or so I may go to the lake to putt around, but that’s $7 and maybe $20 in gas and I go with friends so we all put in a few dollars. I don’t see how that $20 a month (tops) will help my insurance woes.
        Not even sure why I am bothering to justify myself to you. Just keep in mind that we all have our own financial situation, I have student loans, car insurance, house payment, and then all the lovely utilities in Ivins, probably one of the most expensive areas in this part of the state. but what do you do?
        I can’t afford to get sick, not just for the doctors but because I can’t miss the work. 1 day out and I have to decide what bill to not pay. But I’m glad I at least have a job.

  • Randy T September 21, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    I am so glad that you, Kate Dalley, who is obviously in a stated position of opulence, can sit there writing an op-ed about how well these programs can solve the extremely complicated debacle of a Healthcare System we have today, when in-fact you do not use any of the systems in place yourself.

    I’m am fairly confident when I say we could all do WITHOUT your inconsequential and asinine opinions.

    I’m so happy the rich are there to tell the poor what they can and can’t afford.

    • Craig October 10, 2013 at 6:35 am

      @Randy T:
      You sound like a petty, jealous little man.
      Do you think for a moment ANYTHING this woman achieved came overnight?
      Do you believe it was easy? Don’t you think she worked hard for what she has?
      With a husband and FIVE children and everything else life has thrown at her?
      Instead of being a hater, why not LEARN from someone who has tasted success?
      The glass is half full. It’s up to each individual to fill it to the brim.

  • Ryan October 9, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    This is exactly what needs to happen not only to change health care but to change the world. You want to change the world start by affecting the people in your community. Most don’t see the simplistic value behind the idea because it requires being unselfish and serving. Thank you DFC for your service and creating a solution to a problem that Obamacare will never solve.

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