How We Care: Non-Profit Health Care (Update 3)

In order for non-profit, volunteer, free, or charitable clinics to operate, they require specialty care donated by physicians and other health care professionals.  These health care professionals volunteer their time and expertise to ensure that charitable clinics are able to help the most people achieve the highest standard of medical care – and 82% of physicians in these clinics do not receive any financial compensation for their work.

I had the opportunity this summer to talk to and work with several of the 300 physicians who donate medical care via the We Care Network in North Florida.  These doctors work in private practices and hospital clinics, but they see patients pro-bono all the time.  In order to afford the medical equipment and staff required to run their practices, they are unable to see all patients on a volunteer basis, but they work to see as many as they can.  These patients are referred to specialists by primary care doctors (often doctors who volunteer with a free clinic in town), and then referred to the We Care Network as potential candidates for free care.

Each of the doctors I talked to seemed to feel that, because they were able to do it, it was their responsibility to donate care.  All of them felt that health care should not be inaccessible to anyone.  This was a wonderful thing to learn, especially since volunteering (expensive) medical care seems to have few external incentives.  These doctors genuinely care about their community, and seek to better it in any way possible.  And Leon, Wakulla, Jefferson, and Gadsden counties, FL, 50% of the licensed physicians have donated their time and expertise to the We Care Network, and even more have donated to other non-profits or free clinics in the area.  These physicians range in specialty from primary care to oncologists to dermatologists to radiologists and more, and often times they work together with each other and the We Care Network to ensure that each patient, whether they can pay or not, receives the best possible attention.

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