June 18, 2008

Grants Help Clinic Keep Doors Open

By Lauren Stanforth, Albany Times Union, N.Y.

Jun. 18--SCHENECTADY -- Bethesda House's Community Healthcare Access Free Medical Clinic will have enough money for another program year after state Sen. Hugh Farley secured a $15,000 state grant for the organization, Bethesda House Executive Director Margaret Anderton said.

The United Way also provided $25,000 for the 2008-09 year to allow the four-year-old clinic to remain open. Private donations round out the $47,000 budget.

The clinic provides primary care for more than 600 people who have no health insurance. Bethesda House is a ministry serving the homeless and poor in downtown Schenectady.

"We've seen some people who haven't been to the doctor in 10 years," Anderton said.

A doctor or physician's assistant and nurses are available to provide care from 10 a.m. to about 2 p.m. every Thursday at the Bethesda House clinic on Liberty Street.

Most of the $15,000 grant will go toward offering free drug prescriptions to patients. The drugs are needed by many participants who have chronic health conditions that need constant medical treatment. Anderton said to save money, some patients are asked if they can afford low-cost monthly prescriptions available through outlets like Wal-Mart.

Insurance providers are also available on Thursdays to determine if patients qualify for health insurance.

The clinic also works with the following agencies: Hometown Health; AIDS Council of Northeastern New York; Conifer Park; Well Care; Healthy Schenectady Families; the Ellis Hospital McClellan Street Campus; the Schenectady County Health Department and, new this year, American Mobile Dentistry.

All clinic patients also have access to Bethesda's other programs, such as meeting with housing case managers, and can get help at the emergency food pantry and clothing room.

Bethesda House is also seeking volunteers to assist in the clinic as well as help out in a variety of capacities, including the sorting of clothing and food preparation and serving. To help, call 374-7873.


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