Since 1971, Lake County Free Clinic (LCFC) has operated under one mission: to address the unmet health care needs of the residents of our community through the provision of quality medical and dental care. LCFC is the only free clinic in a 3.5-county radius for those who are uninsured, underinsured or otherwise unable to access needed care. LCFC volunteer and staff providers offer treatment visits, laboratories, medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, education and support to individuals and families looking to improve their immediate and long-term medical and dental needs. As a result of this care, patients have seen their lives improved and saved; those receiving care have the ability to be productive members of their families and their communities.
On any given day in Lake County, more than 1 in 8 adults and children are uninsured; this follows a state-wide trend that has seen the uninsured rate increase consistently, with 58,000 more Ohioans uninsured in 2018 than 2017 and 139,000 more uninsured Ohioans in 2020 than in 2018. Additionally, a three-year study from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families found 27,000 more uninsured children in Ohio in 2018 than in 2016. Currently, around 131,000 Ohio children are uninsured.
Beyond those who are uninsured, thousands more in northeast Ohio have insurance, but the associated costs are so high that the insurance is unaffordable and unusable.
Lake County Free Clinic exists for each of them.
Recent needs assessments in each of the primary counties served by LCFC have shown an overarching need for care that goes beyond the exam room. Top needs identified in all four counties have included mental health care, access to healthy food to address food insecurity, poverty, transportation, trust and access to care.
The 2019 Lake County needs assessment showed the county has 48 primary care physicians per 100,000 residents. In comparison, the state has 93 per 100,000 and the country average is 88 per 100,000. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, Geauga County has 69 primary care physicians per 100,000 and Ashtabula County has 35.
Access to primary care in three northeast Ohio counties is substantially worse than the rest of the state.
LCFC provides medical and dental care to lessen both the gap for service and providers in the region, and the reliance on publicly funded systems like emergency rooms, urgent care settings and police or ambulance services. In fact, studies show that almost 62 percent of uninsured patients receiving care in the emergency department said they went there because they had no other place to go (38.9 percent of individuals with private insurance and 48.5 percent of individuals with public insurance). The cost of one non-emergency visit to an emergency department is nearly $800.
LCFC offers uninsured and underinsured patients free, non-emergency medical and dental care, medication and supplies and the referrals and follow-up needed to improve their quality of health and life.
Care is provided, free of charge, to all individuals; LCFC is the only no-cost provider in Lake, Geauga, Ashtabula and eastern Cuyahoga Counties. While patients are asked to consider a donation at their visit, this is not a condition of service, and no patient is turned away due to an inability to pay. These donations make up 5 to 10 percent of the clinic’s annual budget. In 2020, even with limited services due to the coronavirus pandemic, LCFC served 1,045 patients in 3,303 treatment visits.
LCFC provides about $12 in market value healthcare for every $1. This is due in great part to LCFC’s volunteers. More than 85 percent of providers at the clinic are volunteers, many of whom are leaders in their fields and affiliated with institutions like Cleveland Clinic, Lake Health, and University Hospitals, or are in private practice.
Board of Trustees
Chair: and Treasurer: Brent Buckley
Partner, Buckley King
Vice Chair: Susan Deming, RN
Retired, Lake Health
Secretary: Mary Vavpetic
Retired, Cleveland Clinic
Treasurer: Liz Lynch
Senior vice president, Premier Bank
Chris Bartholomew, Orbis Corporation
Emily Currie-Manring, Catholic Charities Diocese of Cleveland
William R. Fike, MD, Cleveland Clinic
Drez Jennings, Cleveland Clinic
Leslie Johns, The Martinez Firm
Loretta Kruse, University Hospitals
Jodi Lohrey, NP, Cleveland Clinic
Cindy Lord, PA-C, Case Western Reserve University
Executive Director: W. Martin Hiller
T: 216-408-2022 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Development Director: Stephanie Devers | email@example.com
Medical Director: Courtney Gravens | firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Engagement Director: Dana Locher | email@example.com
Over the past few years, LCFC has seen a shift in patient demographics. In 2017, 81 percent of LCFC patients were uninsured. Since 2019, between 91 and 93 percent of LCFC patients reported being uninsured. All of LCFC’s patients have reported being unable to access affordable healthcare elsewhere.
More than 91 percent of LCFC’s patients consider LCFC to be their primary medical and dental care provider. In 2021, LCFC provided 3,835 medical visits to 934 individuals between 1 and 85 years old, even with two months of limited services at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
About 60 percent of patient households receive an income below 250 percent of the federal poverty level; about 20 percent receive less than 50 percent of the federal poverty level, which includes those who have no income. About 30 percent of patients are employed full-time and 30 percent are employed part-time.
On average, 3 percent of patients have private insurance, and have noted that increasing premiums, costly deductibles and co-payments and limited providers are the primary reasons they need care at LCFC.
More than 60 percent of medical visits to LCFC are for chronic conditions, including diabetes, heart disease and lung disease. Medical supplies like insulin, testing strips and inhalers are unaffordable but necessary for patient care. LCFC’s goal is for patients with chronic conditions to reduce or eliminate symptoms, ultimately striving to reverse the disease. The remaining medical visits are for acute illness. This care has led to patients missing fewer days of work or school, maintaining their normal productivity and stabilizing their income while preventing more serious complications.
About one-third of LCFC patients report limited or no English proficiency; of patients who report Hispanic or Latinx ethnicity, about half are undocumented or in seeking authorization or residency.
LCFC provides medical and dental care to adults and children.
Robert N., a former law enforcement agent who spent years helping others deal with difficult situations, found himself in a tough spot. Anxiety kept him from sleeping.
COPD kept him from the active life he desired. Joblessness left him without the funds for care. He found that Lake County Free Clinic was the closest location that would provide him with the care he needed, and drove 30 miles for an appointment.
Now, Robert receives medication and breathing treatments that help him truly live. A referral to a smoking cessation program has lessened his dependence on tobacco. Low-cost prescriptions have helped control his anxiety, and have given him a new outlook on life.
“I cannot begin to say how much I appreciate the people who are involved with this place,” he said.
Patients like Robert are those who best represent the
program. With no insurance or income, and facing numerous barriers, Robert said he felt like his only other option was to give up.
LCFC’s experienced volunteers and staff helped him, and hundreds of other Lake and Geauga residents, find solutions that improved the quality — and length — of their lives.
Increasing access to care for underserved northeast Ohioans has been LCFC’s goal since its beginning in 1971. While the service offerings have changed since those early days, the focus on ensuring quality care for adults and children has remained the same.
Over the past several years, however, the ability to increase the levels and types of care has been hindered by the physical space available. Safety guidelines and physical distancing required due to the coronavirus pandemic only exacerbated that barrier.
The need is great in northeast Ohio. LCFC is the only free clinic serving Lake, Geauga, Ashtabula and eastern Cuyahoga counties. More than 40,000 people in this service area can’t afford to see a doctor, dentist or medical professional. Local studies indicate 1 in 11 northeast Ohioans are underserved for their healthcare needs.
LCFC anticipates serving 2,000 people annually within two years of opening a new facility. Building for a Healthier Community will make that happen, by removing space as the main barrier to care for individuals without access affordable care.
Our campaign goal is $750,000, which will:
-Allow for the purchase of the building.
-Renovations to accommodate our dental clinic.
-Equip and furnish the building.
Two northeast Ohio foundations that have long supported the work of LCFC have each gifted $100,000 toward the purchase, and we will receive $100,000 in a congressional allocation for the FY22 federal budget. We have 100 percent commitment from the LCFC board of directors and staff. Gifts from individual pledges bring our total to more than $400,000. The second campaign phase is being carried out by our ad hoc Resource Advisory Committee, individuals who recognize the important role in the community’s healthcare safety net played by the Lake County Free Clinic and have volunteered to assist in reaching our campaign goal.