Jacksonville Free Clinic Struggles For Funding After State Budget Vetoes

Jul 3, 2015

 

Volunteer nurse Mary Lesparance works at the Volunteers in Medicine free clinic.
Credit Volunteers in Medicine

A Jacksonville free health clinic is struggling to make ends meet after not receiving expected state funding.


Gov. Rick Scott used his line-item veto power to cut nearly $500 million from the state budget. And $9.5 million of that was earmarked to be distributed among Florida's free clinics, through the Florida Association of Free and Charitable Clinics.

 

Mary Pat Corrigan is CEO of Volunteers in Medicine, a free clinic in Jacksonville that serves employed but uninsured people and families. She says the veto comes as a big hit.

 

“What that means for Volunteers in Medicine is we got $105,000 worth of grants last year from that association. We have a $750,000 budget," she said. "That’s a big hole in our budget.”

 

Corrigan says the veto was unexpected.

 

“Our state legislators worked very hard and supported us,” Corrigan said. “And they actually doubled the appropriation this year.”

 

Corrigan says more than 200 people, from doctors to receptionists, volunteer their time to run the clinic. But volunteers are only part of the equation.

 

“Salaries, insurance, rent, medications, eyeglasses, mammograms: Those are the big things of our budget,” Corrigan said. “And pretty much there’s nothing else that can be cut. We’re at the bone. We have to find funding.”

 

Free clinics often provide preventative care to people who would otherwise let an illness go untreated.

 

“If we treat these people who deserve to be treated preventatively they don’t end up going to the emergency rooms,” Corrigan said. “They don’t end up missing work and losing their jobs.”

 

Corrigan says hypertension and diabetes are commonly diagnosed illnesses at her clinic.

 

Volunteers in Medicine was one of at least nine free clinics in Northeast Florida counting on state money. Corrigan says other funding normally comes from grants, donations and help from nonprofit hospitals.

 

She is asking for businesses and individuals to step up and help.