News / USA

Washington, DC Free Health Clinic Draws Huge Crowd

Washington DC residents line up to get access to a rare free health clinic which offers a wide range of treatment options
Washington DC residents line up to get access to a rare free health clinic which offers a wide range of treatment options

Multimedia

TEXT SIZE - +

Earlier this year, President Obama signed into law a long-awaited reform of health care in America. It's designed to provide medical insurance to tens of millions of Americans who can't afford it. But the US is still far from having universal health care, and even this reform is facing legal challenges.

At this Washington D.C. clinic, long line forms even before the doors open.

Jacqueline Nelson and her husband Cleveland wait patiently. Finally, they're given a warm welcome and paperwork to fill out.

Cleveland has health insurance because he served in the U.S. Marines. But Jacqueline has no coverage even though she has a job at a nursery school. Despite the risk, she has not bought insurance, because of it's so expensive.

"It's scary," she said.  "Just try to eat right and do right, and try to be your own doctor until you see you can't do it yourself."

But it hasn't worked. She's been going to a doctor who says she may need thyroid surgery, which can cost thousands of dollars.  So came to this clinic to get a second opinion, for free.

For one day, this convention center is the largest doctor's office in the country.

Nearly 2,000 people are offered a range of treatments, short of surgery.  The clinic is funded by private donations, and the doctors and non-medical staff are working without pay.

"This shows the best and worst of America, all in one location. The best is the thousand volunteers that are coming here.  And the heartache is those patients that have to come to a convention center to get the health care that they need," said Nicole Lamoureux who heads the National Association of Free Clinics.

Benito Diaz hasn't been to a doctor in four years despite many ailments.

"First of all I have this stomach pain that's been recurring since the beginning of the year or last year. This pain in my wrist, I don't know if it's carpal tunnel or what. And then I have this growth here on my chest," said Diaz.

To him, the clinic is a blessing.

"I mean, it's a godsend, you can say," added Diaz.

He hopes he will qualify for government subsidized insurance under the health reform law.  

"At the same time, you have to worry what happens when [the election in] November  comes, if the reactionary forces get the upper hand, and we're going to be back to square one, or less than that," said Diaz.

If the Republicans win in November's mid-term elections, patients fear it could endanger the reform that became law last March.

And in addition to these protests against the reform, twenty states are mounting a legal challenge.

So at least for the time being, free clinics like this one will remain the closest thing America has to universal health care.


Jerome Socolovsky

Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.

You May Like

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid