nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
See here for more discussion.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Clinics Of The Past For The Future: Volunteers And Free Medical Care

Using the 19th century model of "doing good works," a network of free clinics has grown in the US.

The Archives of Internal Medicine (June 14) published a survey of free clinics in the nation, something that hasn't been looked at in 75 years.
"Clinics were open a mean of 18 hours per week and generally provided chronic disease management (73.2%), physical examinations (81.4%), urgent/acute care (62.3%), and medications (86.5%)."

For those of you, like me, who were around in the 60's, the notion of a "free clnic" probably brings up the Haight-Ashbury clinic and images of hippie communes.  But, this type of medical care has always been around, and not just for specific purposes like drug rehab, or whatever.  Sanitariums and other public supported facilities were a constant feature of Western medicine over the last several centuries.  Churches have been running them all the way back to medieval times.

The research indicates that the number of these clinics has grown steadily, providing care today to almost 2 million needy patients, with over 1000 facilities in 49 states, and an annual avg budget of $287K.  The paragraph cited above shows that the clinics, short on major resources, reasonably limit the type of care to everyday things and the ongoing sustainment of chronic conditions.  That's appropriate and safe.

The article doesn't mention it, but one weakness of these facilities is their referral process.  If someone comes in who requires specialty evaluation or admission to a hospital, it's sometimes difficult to arrange.

The authors recommend that the level of care being provided to this many people needs to be programmed into the nation's overall health care system as a significant safety net.

Good point.  For very little money, they provide a lot of care.

Doc D

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