Frequently Asked Questions
What is a free clinic?
The State of Iowa provides a definition of free clinic: “Free Clinic” means a facility, other than a hospital or health care provider’s office which is exempt from taxation under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and which has as its sole purpose the provision of health care services without charge to individuals who are otherwise unable to pay for the services. (Source: IA Code: 135.24)
Most of the free clinics in Iowa are volunteer-based and provide services out of a church or community center, at no cost to patients.
Why free clinics?
Shocking, as it may seem, 46.6 Million Americans were without health insurance on any given day in 2005. The need overruns the present access options and free clinics have become the last thread in the stressed health care safety net.
Charity care is cornerstone to efforts addressing the healthcare needs of the uninsured. Community leaders identify the need and initiate grass-roots efforts to serve the underserved through free medical clinics.
How can I begin a free clinic to my community?
If you believe this is an unmet need in your community, identify champions and a site willing to take on the initiative then contact us. Champions should be willing to fill the Volunteer roles of Medical Director and Clinic Manager (FCI provides template job descriptions for these positions). Site should be willing to provide space and storage for clinic operations (FCI provides lease agreement templates).
What about malpractice insurance?
We are fortunate in the State of Iowa to have an established program which offers indemnification to free clinics and its volunteer health care providers. Learn more about the Volunteer Health Care Provider Program.
How can it be free?
- Physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals volunteer their time to provide quality medical services.
- Lay volunteers handle patient check-in, clerical assistance, site maintenance and other tasks to insure an efficient operation.
- Use of Church and Community Center space allows the clinics to operate with little or no rental and utility costs.
- Generous individuals, businesses and organizations provide contributions of cash, supplies, pharmaceuticals and equipment.
- No-cost membership with FCI provides operational and procedural tools as well as needed equipment, technology and education.