Clark County dentist’s healthcare award gives donation to area clinic
VANCOUVER — The Free Clinic of Southwest Washington received $3,000, new exam chairs and other important medical office equipment as a result of a board member’s Community Champion Award.
Last month, Dr. Remigius Eussen, a retired Clark County dentist and board member of the Free Clinic, received a Community Champion Award from Molina Healthcare. As part of the award, he was given $3,000 to donate to an organization of his choice.
“A little difference can make a big difference,” Eussen said in a previous interview. “You know, people would just get involved and help each other out, get involved with their communities and that’s where I get my reward from. Seeing others getting involved and helping out.”
Molina Healthcare of Washington selected seven individuals to receive such awards, and each was given grant money to then donate. Molina provides government-funded care for low-income individuals, as has been operating for close to 20 years.
Eussen worked as a pediatric dentist in Clark County for 17 years, and has served with the Free Clinic in multiple capacities. Since 2005, the Clinic has offered dental services through the donation of a mobile dental van.
Founded through the partnership of Dr. Samuel Beall of the Vancouver Clinic and father Edward Rankin of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, the Free Clinic began taking patients in 1990 at the Clark County Public Health facility.
The organization quickly grew into a long term organization, and in 1995 they staffed some 125 volunteer medical professionals. In 2001 they relocated to their current, permanent location at the Jim Parsley Center. All services are free.
“People can get health care who can’t afford health care because they can’t afford insurance premiums,” said Clinic Executive Director Ann Wheelock. “Perhaps they’re unemployed or something and don’t qualify for state assistance programs. It’s basic health care, but if somebody needs something more advanced, we have a program that tries to hook people up with more specialized care as well.”
With the contribution of $3,000 and new exam chairs and medical office equipment, the Clinic will be able to expand other elements of their services and cover everyday-expenses, Wheelock said.
The clinic relies heavily on grants and donations from the community to facilitate it’s support of a growing population of underserved residents, it says. According to the Clinic, around 60 to 70 percent of patients who receive dental care from them have medicare which does not include dental coverage.
“It’s like a giant puzzle, and the pieces are always changing,” said Carolyn Noack the program manager for the Free Clinic. “How are we going to deliver care, to whom we’re going to deliver it? Because that changes and then with the granting processes, we don’t take any government money, so where are we going to get our funding from and you know what that’s gonna look like.”
Noack said the money from the award is already having a direct impact. Just this week, she said she coded office computer software and dental van repair expenses into the $3,000, and was able to purchase dental supplies.
“We’re pleased to support the Free Clinic of Southwest Washington by donating needed medical equipment so that more people can be comfortably served and assisted,” said Peter Adler, president of Molina Healthcare of Washington in a press release. “Molina and the Free Clinic share similar missions of serving vulnerable individuals and families in our communities, and we’re proud of their contributions.”
Wheelock also explained how these types of contributions are especially helpful with rising medication costs. The Clinic’s dispensary which can supply non-narcotic medications, has been in operation since 1997, and is open five days a week; same as the Clinic itself.
Unlike many similar free clinics, the Free Clinic of Southwest Washington allows walk-ins and operates like an urgent care facility. There is no pre-qualification process to make an appointment, and patients can simply make one right away.
“There’s always people who fall through the cracks,” Wheelock said. “There’s always people that need help, but can’t get on government programs yet make very little money and can’t get on private insurance. Every community has folks like this. Not every community has a free clinic, unfortunately … there’s always a need for free clinics.”