GREENFIELD — Deb Blazek says that all signs seem to point to a higher need for affordable medical care in the area, but patient volume really hasn’t gone up very much at the Greenfield United Methodist Church Free Clinic.
Blazek is the clinic manager and Marvel Blazek is the provider for the free clinic. The entire team there are volunteer. They have a vast knowledge and skill set to be able to meet the wide array of needs patients with no insurance or high insurance deductibles have.
The clinic is held 6 to 8 p.m. the first and third Tuesdays of each month with registration from 5:30 to 6 p.m.
The only qualifying question asked is if patients have no insurance or a high deductible. Otherwise, the church and clinic staff want the clinic to be available to anyone.
Blazek stated that when you look at statewide unemployment figures and the fact that a $600 benefit to those who draw unemployment has now gone away, it’s surprising more people haven’t participated in the free clinic.
The Greenfield UMC Free Clinic is one of 30 clinics like it in the state. Other such clinics that are remotely close to Adair County are in Dallas, Page and Decatur counties.
“We have seen some new patients come into our clinic but not nearly to match what we anticipated it should be,” Blazek said. “We can’t believe people aren’t suffering a little bit.”
Services offered at the free clinic include illness or minor injury care, well child exams, school and sports physicals, employment physicals, limited chronic disease management, diabetes and blood glucose and high blood pressure testing.
“If someone comes in with acute care, like a fever or cough, Marvel is certainly qualified to look at that, give a preliminary diagnosis and prescription, and she may go ahead and refer to some additional testing out at the hospital, but that’s the type of thing we tend to look at,” Blazek said.
The free clinic in Greenfield started in 2016 with Marvel and Deb receiving help from then Pastor Eric Schubert and a host of others. The clinic is held the same night as the food pantry at the church.
“We have it at the Methodist Church because that’s a mission feeling that we have, that we need to reach out and support members of our community, so the Methodist Church is happy to let us use that space,” Deb said. “We follow the food pantry because we’re tapping into that population. We feel they’re already identifying one need. If they’re food challenged there’s every possibility that there’s a healthcare issue. We do have patients we’ve treated at the free clinic who are active in both.”
Deb cautioned that the free clinic should not be seen as an enemy of more traditional hospital care. Instead they work together to treat the entire community’s healthcare needs.
If the free clinic cannot treat a certain issue they will refer those patients on to another provider. If a patient has an ability to get into a health insurance program, the free clinic is able to help them do so and transition them into a more traditional healthcare model.
Deb has extensive medical background. She had already been working in the medical field for awhile when she started at Adair County Memorial Hospital 26 years ago. Marvel also has extensive experience working as a nurse practitioner.
“If people have known Marvel Blazek through the years, they know her ethics and her experience, and this is not second rate medical care. If we cannot provide medical care to someone we’re up front and we tell them that,” Deb said.