Free health clinic reopens in Blue Hill



BLUE HILL The Peninsula Free Health clinic, which closed in March due to the pandemic, is open again to provide medical care to residents who are uninsured.

The clinic, located at 26 Hinckley Ridge Road, reopened in October and was open Monday afternoon, Nov. 16. The next opening date will be Saturday, Dec. 5, from 9 a.m. to noon.

Anyone who wishes to be seen should call 374-5585 and leave a message.

“The clinic has been driven entirely by volunteers for the past two or three years: volunteer providers, volunteer nurses, volunteer intake workers, volunteer board members,” said board member Joe Perkins. “When the pandemic hit, we understandably took pause. We made the decision to suspend operations. Back in March none of us knew how long this would take.”

But the board decided this fall that the volunteers could follow the COVID-19 protocols and take care of themselves and patients.

Speaking of COVID-19, the clinic does not test for the coronavirus.

“We direct them or encourage them to go to the emergency room,” if patients suspect or clinicians suspect someone has COVID-19, Perkins said. “These are uninsured folks, so they don’t really have a primary care physician.”

“The doctors often make referrals,” said Perkins. “We have a working relationship with Northern Light Blue Hill Hospital. If we send patients for lab work, they charge the clinic, and we get a break. I know the docs are even willing to do sports physicals.”

“The people we see don’t have insurance privately or through an employer or through the government,” the board member said. “You name it, they don’t have insurance.”

“We see the need growing too, actually,” Perkins said. “Obviously, the pandemic has affected the economy. Who knows how quickly it’s going to recover? So, there’s going to be more people without insurance coverage.”

The clinic hired its first employee in at least three years, Perkins said. “Sara Koontz is our new part-time administrator. We’re excited to have her on board to run the day-to-day operations and keep us organized.”

The clinic is looking for more volunteer help.

“We are in great need of volunteers — nurses and intake workers,” said board member Jan Snow. “Both positions require a three-hour commitment per month on our clinic open days.”

“Intake volunteers greet and screen patients one at a time at the door, handle patient paperwork and coordinate with the nurse on duty to start the patient care process,” Snow said.

“Nurses take patient history and vital signs and assist our providers as needed,” said Snow. “We are very consistent with our cleaning and COVID-19 screening protocols and only admit one patient at a time into the clinic.”

Those interested in volunteering should email the clinic administrator at [email protected] or leave a message at 374-5585.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jennifer Osborn

Jennifer Osborn

Reporter and columnist at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at [email protected] or call 667-2576.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *