Published in Lake County Tribune | Dec. 3, 2021
by GABRIEL McVEY on 03 Dec 2021
PAINESVILLE – A surprise visit to the Lake County Free Clinic Tuesday, Nov. 30, by the Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce let everyone there know that their hard work during the pandemic had been noticed and the nonprofit had won the 2021 Beacon Award, an annual honor given to a nonprofit or organization in ELCC’s territory that’s had a significant, positive effect on its community.
“Everyone should take a look,” LCFC Executive Director Marty Hiller said as chamber members brought in a banner and balloons. “They’ve all been a big part of this.”
Dave Komjati, who chaired the ELCC committee that determined the Beacon Award winner, said the decision was a “landslide.”
“Everyone had positive things to say about Lake County Free Clinic,” he said.
LCFC has been helping community members in need since 1971. The nonprofit recently learned the building they were working out of on East Erie Street had been sold, and quickly reached an agreement with Signature Health to take over their old facility on Chester Street once SH moves into their new clinic on State Street.
Hiller said that, coincidentally, the sale of the new building was set to close the same the same day the nonprofit was being honored.
“This is great recognition,” he said. “Everybody here owns a piece of this.”
Lake County Free Clinic has made helping the community a priority, providing medical and dental care at no cost to adults and children who are uninsured or underinsured.
Kelly Donahue, executive director at ELCC, said the clinic serves more people than most Lake County residents might think – including some who might surprise them.
“The free clinic has busted so many myths about who is served here,” she said.
In 2020, LCFC provided more than 3,300 medical and dental treatment visits, even while limiting visits for two months due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year, LCFC is expecting to exceed the number of medical visits provided in 2019. More than 93 percent of patients are uninsured; more than 60 percent of patients have household incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, according to a press release from LCFC.
“(The uninsured and underinsured are) a group of people we are absolutely here to serve,” Hiller said.
In early 2022, LCFC will be moving into a new permanent location in central Painesville, from which to provide comprehensive primary and specialty medical care, dental care, case management, labs, prescriptions, referrals for vision and specialty care, supplies and education. To do that, LCFC is launching “Building for a Healthier Community,” a capital campaign to raise $615,000.
“Fifty years is a long time,” Hiller said. “If we hadn’t had that (community) support, we wouldn’t have made it.”
In the last few years, LCFC has worked toward adopting a social determinants approach to healthcare, identifying the medical or dental concerns of patients while adding a case-management program to identify and address other basic needs that could affect their health, such as insufficient food or inadequate housing. This whole-person approach is being adopted by a wide array of healthcare providers and has demonstrated positive and long-lasting health outcomes.
“The clinic is here for those who need it most, when they need it most,” Hiller said.
PHOTO BY GABRIEL McVEY
The Lake County Free Clinic was named the 2021 Beacon Award winner by the Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce.