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.
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.
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