But as important, ongoing health care reform continues, doctors and health care practitioners continue to make a difference everyday in Denver’s communities. For instance, Inner City Health Center provides health care services to anyone regardless of their ability to pay. They do it on a modest budget without any federal funding. Last year alone, the doctors, nurse practitioners and other health care providers (some of them volunteers) at Inner City Health Center provided more than 24,000 patient visits to people who had few other options for care.
In some cases the people who seek health services have no insurance, often times because they work full-time but for a small business with fewer than 50 people, are unemployed, or simply unable to afford full coverage. In other cases they have insurance but some doctors won’t accept their insurance, or the deductibles and/or co-pays are too expensive for the patient to afford to see a provider.
The patients at these clinics are men, women, children and seniors. Many are employed full-time, some are stay-at-home parents and some are retired after decades of work. Some are children who live with families caught in the margins.
In all cases, these people are just like you and me: members of our community who need access to health care.
However, in the Denver metro area seeing a doctor can be an extraordinary challenge for many people. There are only about a dozen “community safety net clinics” that open their doors to all patients. Even those covered by Medicare and Medicaid may struggle to find a doctor who will accept all types of insurance, which means they rely on a safety net clinic all the more.
So much attention is paid in the media to the over-arching policies of our nation’s health care system. But instead of looking at this issue from that vantage point, I’d like to take a moment to recognize Denver’s clinics that continue to meet the needs of our community. They include Inner City Health Center and about 50 additional community safety net clinics across our state, where doctors, nurses and other professionals selflessly work to ensure that all people have access to health care.
Today, think what access to a doctor, physician’s assistant, nurse or other provider means to you and your family and your community. And let’s recognize those whose commitment provides essential access to health care.
Sharon Adams is the executive director of ClinicNET, Colorado’s association for nonprofit community clinics, free clinics, residency clinics and other safety net providers that are not federally qualified health centers. Safety Net Clinic Week across Colorado is being recognized Aug. 19 – 22.