Homeless, jobless seeking more medical help - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Homeless, jobless seeking more medical help

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (NBC12) - Hard economic times is taking a dramatic toll on those who are already struggling on a daily basis. The Daily Planet's medical clinic is overflowing with new patients during these tough economic times. 

Doctors usually have 22,000 patient visits a year at the Daily Planet's Health Care for the Homeless Clinic. That number will almost certainly be even higher by January 1st.

William doesn't want us to use his last name. Eleven months ago he lost his job.

"I've been on the street living from family to family friends ever since February," says William.

Seven months ago, he discovered the Daily Planet's Health Clinic for the Homeless.

"It's very helpful to me to get my services that I need to keep myself health wise. Cause I'm not able to afford any insurance right now because through the job market, it's kinda tight right now," says William.

William is one of dozens of new patients showing up at the clinic's doors.

"We're seeing, oh maybe 150 people a week, in just the medical area of the clinic," says Dr. Reynolds-Cane.

That's up 10 to 15 percent from this time last year. All the divisions here... Eye, dental and mental health care are up across the board.

"Particularly folks who are over 60-years-old, looking for meidication assistance," says Dr. Reynolds-Cane. "And we're finding more patients coming in because they're unable to find jobs or they've lost their jobs."

Many of the clinic's newer patients recently lost their health benefits and can no longer afford medications and prescriptions. Others are on the verge of becoming homeless.

"We hear from time to time people are homeless because it's a choice. By and large, it's not a choice," says Dr. Reynolds-Cane. "Folks want a place to come home to at the end of the day."

The clinic eventually made William an intern; a 12 week program to help him get a roof over his head and find a job.

"It's given me a lot of hope that there is something out there for me that I can do," says William. 

To qualify for health care you cannot make more than 200-percent above the poverty level. To learn more about the health care services at the daily planet you can call (804) 783-0678.

Copyright 2008. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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