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Free Clinic available for Polk residents

Medical, other care offered for free or low price

COLUMBUS — Low income and uninsured Polk County residents have the opportunity to take advantage of a free clinic for medical, pharmacy, specialty care and mental health services.

The Free Clinic is either free or low cost, depending on the patient. It is located in a shared office with the Polk Health Center in the Columbus Commons.

Free Clinics Executive Director Judy Long visited the Columbus Town Council’s February meeting to detail the service.

Long said the Free Clinics have been serving this community since 2008. She said last year, the clinic took care of approximately 175 members of the community.

“I just wanted to tell you we’re here,” Long told council. “I wanted to have a meet and greet about what we are doing in this community. We’re here and helping take care of your good citizens.”

Long said the Free Clinic is also in Henderson County, and provide the same services, as well as give medications to the jail.

Columbus Police Chief Chris Beddingfield added that the town’s first shipment of Narcan, the medication used to stop drug overdoses, came from the Free Clinic last year.

“This is an impressive resource to have in our community,” said Columbus Councilman Robert Williamson. “We have people in need in Polk County.”

The Free Clinics started in 2001, when a group of physicians and other concerned citizens, led by Dr. Russell Sacco, shared a vision of a free medical clinic where doctors and others volunteered their time to serve their most vulnerable neighbors.

The Free Clinics today serve as a nonprofit, charitable organization that provides free healthcare services to low-income, uninsured residents of Polk and Henderson counties.

There are 174 medical, specialty and community professionals who volunteer their services, with 274 volunteers and over 800 donors.

According to the Free Clinics, 1 in 5 Polk County residents qualify for services, with 14 percent of Polk County residents living in poverty. There are 20 percent of Polk County adults, ages 18-64, who do not have health insurance.