By Janet Lyman, 100WS Grantmaker
In one of the states’ richest counties, when a family experiencing economic instability – low wages, unstable housing or lack of health insurance – needs routine care or encounters a medical emergency or debilitating illness, where can they turn? Fortunately, in Loudoun County, a set of concerned organizations, citizens, and volunteers have built options to address both primary and preventive healthcare and housing instability. This article explores how the Loudoun Free Clinic, Healthworks of Northern Virginia, and INOVA’s Mobile Hope (just three of the multiple services available) can help families in need.
For illustrative purposes, let’s look at a family comprised of adults, children, and seniors who lack health insurance and have housing challenges. We can explore how these organizations could help the family and, in addition, ensure their continued contributions to the economic health and wellbeing of the overall community. While not comprehensive of all services, the following illustrates the maturity, scope, and applicability of services.
Loudoun Free Clinic
For uninsured adults aged 18-64 in our family, the Loudoun Free Clinic, a non-profit volunteer based organization established in 2002, is a gateway to medical care. The Clinic provides a range of services as well as access to specialty services at no cost for families with income level that falls within the 200% of the Federal poverty level. Uninsured adults are more likely to postpone or forgo health care altogether, and are less able to afford prescriptions or follow through on recommended treatments. Without care, treatable conditions can escalate to complex and serious illnesses that jeopardize an individual’s wellbeing and the family’s economic security. In 2012, medical in-clinic visits numbered 3,793, a 31% year over year increase. In addition, the Free Clinic provided 13,938 prescriptions valued at $1.8M. In the contracting economy of 2012, the clinic saw a 57% increase in the number of patients.
Healthworks of Northern Virginia
For the children and seniors in the family lacking health insurance, they can turn to Healthworks of Northern Virginia. Many local health care providers no longer accept new Medicare and Medicaid patients. And, as we have all experienced, children need ready access to both preventive and primary care. Healthworks, a nonprofit Federal qualified health provider with centers in Leesburg, Sterling, and Herndon, provides medical, dental, and behavioral health care to anyone in need, regardless of age or ability to pay. Healthworks accepts all patients, regardless of income or insurance status – Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, no insurance or the underinsured. More than 90% of families at Healthworks are lower income (within 200% of the Federal poverty line) and 69% would be better served in languages other than English.
And what if housing is an issue for our family too? For homeless children, or those in precarious housing situations, there is Mobile Hope. INOVA Mobile Hope Services travels throughout Loudoun County and cares for precariously housed and at risk youth. Without any questions, for children 18 and under, Mobile Hope will provide food, clothes, blankets, and personal items. Recently, 658 children in our county were in homeless or in precarious housing arrangements. Some 40% of these students do not have a parent or guardian in their lives. They sleep in cars, the woods, abandoned buildings or “couch surf” with friends. And there may be a larger population at risk – some 700-800 children may also be precariously housed or at risk that have not been identified.
While we can hope our family can build future economic stability, services from these providers can go a long way to enabling them to be more capable to perform at work and school. And ongoing preventive care can keep small health crises from escalating into events which undermine family well-being and security. Kudos to the leaders and volunteers who make such services available in Loudoun County!
For more information about these services:
For a Free Clinic eligibility appointment, call 703-779-5424. More information at loudounfreeclinic.org.
To schedule an appointment for you or a family member at Healthworks, call 703-443-2000 and patient’s forms are available at hwnova.org.
Contact Mobile Hope at 703-858-8801. More information at INOVA.org.