Posted at: 09/09/2013 4:50 PM
Updated at: 09/09/2013 5:49 PM
By: Mark Mulholland
SARATOGA SPRINGS - People were filing into the new Saratoga Community Health Center Monday afternoon.
They aren't sick.
They're there to see the newest place for patients to be treated in Saratoga County.
What's unique here is that this facility doesn't require health insurance or any payment, if the patient can't afford it.
Saratoga Hospital saw a need to care for people with low or moderate incomes who were going to the emergency room when all they really needed was a doctor's visit.
"So as we've looked at the population and the numbers and we've watched how people have inappropriately used higher levels of care such as the emergency department, there is a clear need," said Angelo Calbone, president and CEO of Saratoga Hospital.
Calbone says Saratoga's uninsured service workers---waitresses, bus people and dishwashers---will be among those who'll benefit from the center, which was paid for in part by 3-million dollars in community donations.
One million dollars is already set aside to keep the facility running in the future. And it has the backing of the hospital.
"This center will not make money. And unlike most businesses we will keep going because of the commitment of the hospital board of trustees," said Terry Lee, executive director, Saratoga Hospital Foundation.
....When patients start arriving on Tuesday, medical staff hopes to see people who haven't gone to the doctor because they couldn't afford it.
"It's so frustrating to not be able to offer services on a medical side because there's big social issues and here we're actually having license to be able to do all of it," said Dr. Renee Rodriguez-Goodemote, medical director of the center.
The health center will have people on staff to help patients navigate low-cost insurance options. And the timing is good because people are expected to have a lot of questions regarding the new Affordable Care Act, also know as Obamacare.