(NBC News) Community health clinics that treat underserved and uninsured patients may be yet another victim of COVID-19. The pandemic has created a perfect storm: A spike in demand and faltering funding.
“80-percent of our clinics are reporting funding is the number one issue for them,” says Nicole Lamoureux, President and CEO of the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics.
Demand has skyrocketed at nearly three-quarters of their 1,400 locations.
Meanwhile, donations have dropped more than 50 percent. “The worst-case scenario is free and charitable clinics run out of money and they have to close,” Lamourexu says.
In Utah, two state-funded health clinics have already closed and a third may join them due to COVID-19 budget cuts. They served up to 14,000 patients a year, many with chronic conditions and from marginalized populations.
The Kaiser Family Foundation reports about 28 million patients are treated every year at community health centers, the majority of whom are low-income and racial or ethnic minorities.
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