Affordable Clinics for Uninsured Patients

Those who are uninsured in the greater Houston area have few options for affordable health care, but things are getting better thanks to federally qualified health centers.

The FQHC designation carries with it a number of benefits for a community non-profit clinic. Houston City Council Member Dr. Shelley Sekula-Gibbs is one of a number of area leaders who strongly support FQHC's.

And the need is great. Sekula-Gibbs says not long a go there was only one FQHC in Houston, today there are nine, but the area qualifies for twenty-five. The need can also be measured by how an existing community clinic grew following FQHC status. El Centro de Corazon has been around since 19-94 but only became an FQHC a year and a half ago.

Mary Jo May is Executive Director of El Centro de Corazon. The main clinic is at Polk and Telephone on the east side of Houston. There is also a location on Navigation and a recent FQHC grant will help add two more locations. The waiting room is often full as medical, dental, mental and social services are provided.

Things are different at the Pasadena Health Center, where the waiting room is almost empty because many services are offered on part-time bases. The clinic is in the 500 block of Pasadena Boulevard and will not receive its first FQHC grant until December. John Sweitzer is the Executive Director.

As word of the clinic spreads more patients, especially children, are getting well patient care and therefore have a better chance of staying healthy. It also means the community as whole is healthier and fewer people will go to emergency rooms for an illness that could have been treated or prevented at a community clinic.

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