A group of concerned community members worked together to form the Hannibal Free Clinic, which opened its doors in May 2007.
*Editor’s Note: This story is an installment in a 13-week series highlighting volunteers and organizations that benefit from United Way funding in the Hannibal area.
Sharon Webster, Director of the Hannibal Free Clinic, knows the organization would not survive without volunteers. Betty Anderson, RN, and Dr. Jeffrey Wells, both live out the United Way of the Mark Twain Area’s motto to “Be the Change” through their volunteer work at the Hannibal Free Clinic.
The Hannibal Free Clinic, a United Way Agency, provides free healthcare for individuals in the community who do not have health insurance. Many clients of the Hannibal Free Clinic work multiple part-time jobs, but do not have enough income to afford health insurance off the Health Insurance Marketplace and do not have coverage through their employers.
When the Affordable Healthcare Act went into effect in 2014, Missouri opted to not expand Medicaid coverage. This left some Missouri residents without the option of any health care coverage. For many local individuals, the Hannibal Free Clinic is the only option for routine healthcare needs.
Anderson, of rural Monroe City, has volunteered with the clinic since the beginning. She retired in April 2007 after working as the Director of the Ralls County Health Department for 31 years. While in that position, she saw many individuals not having access to needed medical care an unable to afford needed medications.
A group of concerned community members, including Anderson, worked together to form the Hannibal Free Clinic, which opened its doors in May 2007, the month after Anderson retired. Since day one, Anderson has volunteered nearly 20 hours each week to assist patients at the Hannibal Free Clinic.
“My husband calls it going to work,” says Anderson. Each day she is at the Hannibal Free Clinic she works to help their clients get needed medications. Through Patient Assistant Programs, Anderson has had over twelve million dollars of medications donated to clients of the Hannibal Free Clinic since their opening in 2007. Many of these medications are to assist with high blood pressure, diabetes, and COPD.
“For some diabetics by the time they get their insulin and other diabetic medications it costs over $20,000 a year,” explained Anderson.
She works to ensure clients have their needed medications that they would not otherwise be able to afford.
“We like to keep people healthy, happy, and out of the hospital,” explained Dr. Jeffrey Wells, a Family Practice Doctor who works at Quincy Medical Group and lives in rural Palmyra. Wells has volunteered for one day a month for the past 10 years at the Hannibal Free Clinic caring for patients’ chronic health problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Each day he is at the clinic he sees around 20 patients.
Wells completes wellness exams and creates a plan of treatment for his patents. He works with Anderson to get patients their needed medications.
“There is a need to help God’s children,” Wells said.
Through the Hannibal Free Clinic, Wells utilizes his specialized knowledge to help individuals in need.
“People are so thankful for the care and medications they receive,” he said.
Wells encourages individuals to step up and get involved: “If everyone pitched in and helped a little bit the world would be such a better place.”
During 2017, the Hannibal Free Clinic had 883 office visits and assisted clients getting medication valued at over two million dollars. The clinic has six practitioners that donate their time to assist patients. “We definitely need more practitioners,” said Webster, clinic director.
Through the Hannibal Free Clinic, a United Way Agency, individuals can work to Be the Change. To learn more about the United Way visit http://unitedwaymta.org .
Denise Damron is the Executive Director of the United Way of the Mark Twain Area.