Free health clinic proposal

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. KNOP-TV A recent study by the University of Nebraska Lincoln's Minority Health Disparities Initiative found that 61 percent of the population in Lexington is uninsured.

"That cuts across all demographics and people are having to make difficult choices between continuing and sustaining health insurance, and they are not choosing health insurance," said Open Arms Committee Member Eddie Mariel.

The committee is hoping to drum up support for a non-profit free health clinic.

"Urgent care will take your insurance and they'll see you if you have it, but you are still going to get a bill and so what we're proposing is a non-profit that is totally free," Mariel said. "So that means kids getting physicals and adults getting physicals-basic checks, basic blood work, high blood pressure checks just to the basic things so that we can inform people so they can tackle it before it becomes a crisis."

The clinic would provide preventative medical care to patients who fall between the cracks.

"Like the older generation for example, perhaps they make a little too much money to apply for Medicare or Medicaid and so they apply and they are denied because they make a little too much money and so all of a sudden they fall between the cracks because then they have to make a decision, "well do I pay for my power bill, my water bill or do I pay for insurance?," Mariel said. "Another way that people fall through the cracks is many people in our community are part-time employed and work several part-time jobs so they don't qualify for health insurance."

The concept is not new for Nebraska. Communities such as Kearney already have one.

"Clinics pop up where there are needs," Mariel said.

However, to make it happen will not only require financial sustainability, but also volunteers.

"We're encouraging people to come and seek it out and if you have an inkling of "gosh, well this sounds like a great idea, but I can't offer anything," still come and help make this clinic a reality," said Mariel.

The proposal is only in its beginning stages.

A location for the clinic has yet to be determined within in Dawson County.

The next meeting is scheduled for July 19th at 1 p.m.