But don't expect a garish lipstick or an unwanted knickknack from the Bowling Green-based Commonwealth Health Free Clinic. Indeed, when it comes to 'complimentary' health care, the free gift is often the most priceless one of all...
When 37-year-old Warren Wilburn had a heart attack but had no insurance to cover his medical bills, it could've turned out like the movie John Q, but thanks to the CHFC, he got a happy ending.
"The clinic saved my life," recounts Wilburn, thankful that the establishment admitted him to the Medical Center and provided him with medication for his hypertension and information on how to live a healthier lifestyle.
In this business, of course, the biggest success story is when a patron vows never to return. Wilburn began a full-time job this month that came complete with health insurance coverage.
Logan County residents have the same chance to make a healthy new start, as the Commonwealth Health Free Clinic recently expanded its scope of services to include on-site medical care in Allen, Logan and Simpson counties.
Eligible individuals can be examined at the Franklin Medical Plaza on Tuesdays and the Medical Center EMS station in Russellville on Thursdays.
The Russellville location should be familiar to some local senior citizens, as the free clinic has been operating its senior medication program there for several months.
With the CHFC's medication effort, low-income seniors 65 or older whose Medicaid will not cover their prescription costs can receive free medication. It is a mission that has been well received locally.
"We love our seniors down there," says Julie Eaton, executive director of the Commonwealth Health Free Clinic. "That's a great group of people."
Every Thursday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m., that same group, as well as countless others, can be seen by the clinic's new nurse practitioner, Carol Stowe-Byrd, hired specifically for the outreach endeavor.
You could certainly say the clinic is reaching out to people as it branches out. "The free clinic provides an invaluable service to those individuals who are doing their best to stay in the workforce but must choose between medical care and food for their tables," Eaton points out.
Available services include remedies for everything from allergies to diabetes. "Many times, our patients have gone years without medical care, and so we love to help them live healthier lives," Eaton says.
The nurse practitioner can also prescribe medicines at the EMS location, where patients can 'fill' those prescriptions for free.
The clinic does not offer routine screenings at its on-site locations; however, if, after examination, there is clinical indication of a serious problem, Eaton says that the CHFC has the ability to get lab tests run and set up further testing.
Funded by the Commonwealth Health Corporation-- the parent corporation of the Medical Center-- in $1 million annual donations as well as by private gifts, the Commonwealth Health Free Clinic, which has been operating in Bowling Green since 1995, provides basic medical and dental services to the "working poor" of South Central Kentucky.
According to the clinic guidelines, the working poor are those individuals who have done their best to stay in the workforce, but do not have insurance or any form of social assistance and do not have the means to pay for their healthcare.
In order to be considered for treatment, patients (or their spouses) must be currently employed and meet financial criteria established by the clinic.
Proof of employment is required at every visit. The free clinic will accept paycheck stubs, employer letters or tax returns as evidence of employment.
The patient must not have medical insurance or military identification and must not currently receive Medicare, Medicaid or Worker's Compensation benefits.
Logan Countians can still drop in the Bowling Green location on Tuesday and Thursday nights, but Eaton believes that it will be more convenient for them to see Stowe-Byrd right here in Russellville, as long as they schedule an appointment beforehand.
After all, she says, "We're getting a lot of response. We continue to get busier every day. Unfortunately, the percentage of the population in need of our services is growing. Over 47 million Americans are currently uninsured; 8 out of 10 of those people have jobs.
"We want to support these folks' efforts to help their families and themselves," she adds. "We're excited to come to Russellville."
Of course, Eaton is always enthusiastic about her job: "It's wonderful. Our patients are dear, dear people."
And they are also due certain unalienable rights, which, according to Eaton, pertain to health care as much as free speech.
She demonstrates her passion for both: "This is America. People should have access to health care, regardless of their ability to pay."
Fortunately for Eaton, she works at a place where the free gift just keeps on giving.
For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call the Commonwealth Health Free Clinic at 781-9260 or toll free at 1-866-345-1220.