Summit County: Sick patients look for help at last minute |

Summit County: Sick patients look for help at last minute

The Summit Community Care Clinic in Frisco is urging those living or working in Summit County without proper access to health care to apply for a community care card before they get sick. Once obtained, the card provides holders with access to primary care, reproductive, mental and oral health services at the clinic. The clinic has recently been seeing an influx of new patients looking for help after they’ve already fallen ill.

The clinic requires everyone to apply for a card before they can be seen by a doctor. Brandi Thompson, eligibility coordinator and health educator at the clinic, said sick patients without cards have to apply for one first, and can’t always get in that day to see a doctor.

“We really encourage people to come get their card before they get sick,” Thompson said.

Sarah Vaine, executive director of the clinic, said the amount of people looking for help at the last minute is “particularly bad this year.”

“They’re very desperate for help,” she said. “The issue is getting them a card that day and getting them an appointment.”

Summit Community Care Clinic’s website states it is a nonprofit “safety-net” clinic for uninsured, underinsured, and income-eligible workers or residents of Summit County.” Payment is provided on a sliding scale based on family income. Its goal is “to provide quality, integrated health services at a cost that our patients can afford.”

Thompson said the process of obtaining a card takes less then 10 minutes if patients come prepared with the proper documentation. Applicants must provide proof of physical address, proof of income, and identification for each member of their family. Identifications for each family member are important because the clinic’s sliding-scale fee is based on the number of dependents living in the home. Thompson said applicants having trouble obtaining the proper documents can contact her to see if they can “figure out other alternatives.”

The clinic provides reproductive health care – STD testing, women’s exams, contraceptive services, etc. – to anyone in Summit County, even without a card.

Vaine said the clinic provides the county with a much-needed service. She said there’s a huge number of people who work tirelessly in the service industry, yet are unable to make ends meet because of low pay and a high cost of living.

“The cost of living in Summit County is easily 20 percent above other parts of the country,” she said. “One person with one child needs to make at least $20 an hour to be able to support themselves in Summit County. Sixty-five percent of the jobs in Summit County are service industry related. According to the Department of Labor, that’s between $10 and $12 an hour. Those are all of the people that will be turning to the care clinic because they’re not making enough to live here. Yet our economy depends on that 65 percent tremendously to keep the service industry running.”

Both Vaine and Thompson said people don’t always apply for a card because they assume they won’t be eligible. Others worry there might be a stigma attached to visiting the clinic. They both want to dispel those fears.

“People have some fear that (visiting the clinic) will put them in some category,” Vaine said. “The truth is we’ve received nationwide and statewide recognition for the innovative care we’re providing. It’s our neighbors, teachers and family members that are utilizing these services. Our clinic really provides exceptional healthcare services.”

For more information about the community care card, contact Brandi Thompson at (970) 668-6681

Summit Community Care Clinic’s website is

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