Twenty years have passed since the clinic first opened its doors with the mission to serve the underserved in Riverside. This was no easy task to take on, but each year the clinic has grown and its list of volunteers increased. In the beginning there were only undergraduate students, medical students, and physicians. Now we have medical residents, nurses, Western University pharmacy and dental students, as well as dentists. We provide patients with various health services through patient-care team approach. These range from basic first aide to long- term medical management of chronic diseases like diabetes. Currently we average 50 medical; and 20 dental patients at each bi-weekly clinic. As the clinic continues to expand, new developments are established. One of our additions has been a partnership with Western University dental students and their advisers. For the past seven years our clinic had been struggling to find an available source of dental care for our patients. Now, with support from the California Dental Association and the Riverside Community Health Foundation, we will finally be able to offer patients access to dental care they previously were unable to find.
We also took strides in expanding the range of medications available to our patients when we developed our NeedyMeds program. Many of our patients had been struggling to obtain certain name brand medications that our clinic unfortunately could no longer afford to provide. This new program allows our patients to receive free medications straight from the manufacturer. It has proved especially beneficial to our asthmatic patients whose care requires expensive HFA inhalers. One of the most important aspects of the new program is its sustainability as each years patients can reapply to maintain the aid they need. Aside from instituting new programs we have also improved some of our well-established programs such as laboratory testing and providing hygiene kits. At every biweekly meeting, every person receives a hygiene kit, which can include supplies like shampoo, bars of soap, razors, tissue, toothbrushes and toothpaste, female hygiene products and condoms, and whatever else we receive through donations. At the beginning of the year our clinic was toiling under lab costs, which had undergone a steep increase. Our lab pricing began to outpace our medication expenses by a large margin. Fortunately, our non-profit status allowed us to join the Council of Connections, which placed us in contact with a new source for laboratory analysis and pricing that reduced our costs to a more sustainable rate. Our smoking cessation program now in its fifth year has continued to provide support to patients as they work to end their dependence on cigarettes. The KID program normally held only on clinic nights held its first summer program and saw a wonderful turnout of children happy to have a place to learn and play during summer months.
The Riverside Free Clinic earned a 2021 Gold Rating from the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (NAFC) Quality Standards Program.
The mission of the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics is to ensure the medically underserved have access to affordable health care. The NAFC and its members are dedicated to ensuring that patients receive quality health care. To quantify and qualify the care provided at the Free and Charitable Clinic network, the NAFC formalized a set of Quality Standards for member organizations. For more information on the NAFC, please visit www.nafcclinics.org.