Printed in the Iowa City Press-Citizen, Jan. 29, 2010.
With Washington politicians uncertain about the future of health care reform, we think it's a good time to remind our readers that the Iowa City Free Medical Clinic/Dick Parrott Free Dental Clinic is having a benefit Scrabble tournament from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturday, at Old Brick, 26 E. Market St. (Interested players and donors can pre-register online at www.freemedicalclinic.org.)
Since 1971, the clinic has provided high quality medical care for a seemingly ever growing number of Eastern Iowans without medical insurance. Back in the 1970s, the bulk of the patient population was younger, lived in walking distance of downtown and would come in primarily for sporadic illnesses -- a cold, a urinary infection, a minor injury, etc. Today, the patient base has expanded to include a wide range of Eastern Iowans who view the clinic as "my doctor."
In recent years, the services provided by the clinic -- and the facility that houses it -- have become more in keeping with those of any internal medicine practice. And in 2006, the clinic moved out of downtown Iowa City and into a more professional facility at 2440 Towncrest, one with a three-room dental clinic, a dark room and lab, six exam rooms, a larger reception and waiting area as well as two offices for medical and administrative staff.
We hope that change in location has driven home to the Iowa City area that, while the free clinic does serve a large number of homeless and other people on the fringes of society, most of the clinic's patients are members of the working poor -- people in low-wage jobs for which they receive little or no benefits.
In an ideal society, of course, there would be no need for such a clinic. And if President Obama and the U.S. Congress live up to the challenge and pass significant health care reform, perhaps fewer Eastern Iowans will have to rely solely on such services.
But as the politicians blather on, someone has to take care of those who fall through the societal cracks.
We're happy to see that the uninsured and under-insured residents of Johnson and the surrounding counties have been so well treated by the volunteers of our medical community for the past 39 years. And we urge our readers to support this important organization.