The more patients the Social Welfare Board helps, the more it needs to find. It’s actually a good problem to have — about half of them become healthier and end up advancing above the poverty line.
Also known as the walk-in clinic, the Social Welfare Board helps about 3,200 people annually at the Patee Market Health Center on South 10th Street. But Linda Judah, executive director of the clinic, said she wants potential patients in town to know the Social Welfare Board has the means to treat more people. The clinic is currently running at only 73% of its capacity.
“We provide quality care. Come to us,” Judah said. “We are here to lift the person up, get them the care that they need, equip them with the tools they need to live a healthier life.”
Judah has reviewed the latest U.S. Census Data, which estimates there are about 19,000 people in Buchanan County living under the federal poverty line. Subtracting Medicare and Medicaid recipients leaves around 15,000 people who may or may not have health care provided by their employer.
For a single person, being under the federal poverty line is an income of $12,490 per year, or $25,750 for a household of four.
The free and charitable clinic opened its doors in 1913, making it the oldest inside the United States, according to the Social Welfare Board.
“Forty-two percent of our operational monies come from the city and the county, and then another 20% from federal and state contracts,” Judah said.
There are no co-pays for patients, but the clinic does ask people to pay a $5 administration fee.
Judah said there have been stories of how former patients have “paid it forward” by donating money to the clinic years after they were patients.
Around 25% of the current patients report if the clinic didn’t exist they would likely visit the emergency room instead or would not get treatment.
The Social Welfare Board is located at 904 S. 10th St., Suite A. It can be reached at 816-233-5188.