FernCare Volunteers and Donors Make Sure Uninsured Have Access to Healthcare
(Michael Kruger, April 9, 2019)
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Ferndale, MI- I was at a neighbor’s New Year’s Eve party on the eve of 2013 when I met Ann Heler who told me about FernCare, a free health clinic that she had helped establish recently. I had just retired after 30+ years as a statistical analyst at Wayne State University’s School of Medicine. I was keeping pretty busy but thought that this would be a worthwhile volunteer opportunity as I spoke to Ann about how I could help out maintaining a patient database for the clinic. Six years later, with the help of some very hard-working and capable volunteer data entry personnel, I am still at it. After more than six years of manually entering data from paper patient application and encounter forms, FernCare is about to move to an EMR (electronic medical record). Let us pray!
FernCare is celebrating its 10th anniversary of operation as a free clinic serving primarily Oakland, Macomb and Wayne county residents from the ages of 19-64 and have no health insurance. There are no income or residency requirements for obtaining care at FernCare. Under the leadership of Ann Heler and its’ board members it has grown to become an important source of medical and counseling care for many who would otherwise have no source of care.
At this point it serves two primary purposes to the community:
~Providing quality primary care, laboratory testing , generic medications, wellness & nutrition counseling and acupuncture treatment. Dental care, STD (sexually transmitted disease) testing, and OB/GYN care are not offered but referrals are provided .
~Enrollment assistance for the ACA (Affordable Care Act) and Healthy Michigan, the expanded Medicaid program.
In addition it serves as a community outreach service for recycling used medical equipment and medications where allowable. It also provides health resource information to the public.
There are clinic sessions every other Thursday and Saturday and sessions every other Monday for new patients. In addition, acupuncture is available by appointment. Patients are seen by appointment only during these sessions. The clinic office manager is available to schedule appointments and provide referrals M-F from 9:00 AM until 2 PM. The phone number to call is (248)-677-2273. The clinic is located at 751 E. Nine Mile Rd. at the east end of a small strip mall located at 9 Mile & Hilton Rd. in Ferndale. Walk-in treatment is NOT available. An appointment must be made to see a primary care provider. For those with immediate non-emergency medical needs, the office manager can provide local referrals.
FernCare is a 501(c) non-profit Michigan Corporation and it is completely self-funded. It operates solely on grants and the fund-raising efforts of the board of directors. Throughout the year there are several public events that help the clinic raise funds such as their annual awards dinner and silent auction, garage sale and the funds collected from providing parking, generously donated by Credit Union One, in their nearby parking structure during the DIY/Art Festival, Pridefest, Pig & Whiskey, and other summer events. It operates on a budget of approximately $200,000 per year.
Everyone at Ferncare is a volunteer except the Clinic Manager, Office Manager, bookkeeper (all part-time) and two positions supported through grants to help people enroll in the ACA and Healthy Michigan (Medicaid). Every volunteer who works with patients is licensed or certified by the state of Michigan as are the pharmacy and lab.
FernCare is located at 751 E 9 Mile Rd, Ferndale, MI 48220. If you are interested in obtaining medical care or volunteering (a variety of both medical and non-medical opportunities are available), contact the office manager, Carolyn Barr, during business hours (M-F, 9:00AM -2 PM) at 248-677-2273 or go the website (http://ferncare.org) and click ‘volunteer with us’. Donations can also be made through the website as well as additional information about the FernCare clinic can be found.
FernCare’s 11th Annual Fundraising Dinner takes place May 23 at the Detroit Yacht Club. Click here for more info.
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