• Charitable health care facilities in central Florida step in to help the uninsured


    SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - Under the new health care law, the deadline to sign up for health insurance is just three days away.
    During Channel 9's live town hall meeting on the new law, many people said they don't qualify or can't afford insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
    Channel 9 anchor Vanessa Welch has been looking into the issue and found some important information on free health care clinics that treat the uninsured.
    Randall Quick said he went to Mexico for an affordable hip replacement surgery but came back with a big infection.
    "I was screaming in agony every night.  I didn't know where to go," said Quick.
    Quick doesn't have insurance. He said a friend told him about Shepherd's Hope Health Center, in Longwood. Doctors there referred him to a surgeon who cured the infection for free .
    "Without Shepherd's Hope, I could be dead now," said Quick.
    Even with the new health care law, the demand for affordable medical care is growing. Doctors at Shepherd's Hope treated 20,000 uninsured people last year.  
    The urgent care clinic runs on private donations and doesn't get state or federal funding.
    Grace Medical Home, in Orange County, also relies on private donations and treats patients for free .
    "Grace Medical is an answer from God," said Freddie Patton, pastor of a small church.

    Patton said he can't afford insurance, even under the Affordable Care Act. He said doctors at Grace Medical Home helped him recover from a stroke.
    Patients who come to Grace Medical Home get primary care treatment.
    By giving people without insurance free primary care, the clinic helps them avoid emergency room visits they can't pay for, which keeps insurance premiums lower for everyone else.   
    "There is always going to be a need to help those who have no other place to go for ongoing care," said Stephanie Garris, with Grace Medical Home.
    Diabetic patients, like Patton, often visit Grace Medical Home more than 10 times a year 
    After they see a doctor, patients can get their prescriptions filled in the same building. The medicine is donated.
    Officials with Grace Medical Home said the need for free health care in our community keeps growing. They said 35 new patients are enrolled at their facility every month.
    Local hospitals and doctors volunteer their services for Grace Medical Home and Shepherd's Hope.
    Patients at the two clinics received more than $28 million worth of donated care last year.

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