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Free clinic needs more providers

March 1, 2019 GMT

KANKAKEE — Hippocrates Medical Clinic, which offers free services, has no problem attracting patients, but it needs more providers to expand its hours, its leaders say.

The all-volunteer clinic at 606 E. Court St. is open on Mondays and Fridays, seeing about 30 to 40 patients per week, they say.

Most of the patients are Hispanic.

“I’m encouraging other practitioners to volunteer their time. A multitude of individuals have donated equipment,” said Dr. Terrill Applewhite, the clinic’s medical director. “We’re serving an underserved population. The Hispanic population is larger than most people know.”

Hippocrates has two nurse practitioners and a physical therapist who come in. Applewhite is the only doctor at the clinic, but he said a cardiologist plans to start working there soon.

With more providers at the nonprofit clinic, Applewhite said, the number of patients easily could double.

Few of the patients have medical insurance. In time, the clinic likely will set fees on a sliding scale based on income, Applewhite said. The only current fee is that labs cost $25.

He said the clinic might be a good opportunity for a physician looking to set up an independent practice. Such a doctor could serve his own patients, as well as those at Hippocrates.

Applewhite also suggested that physician residents, who are recent medical school graduates, could rotate into the clinic.

“That might not be a bad route to go. They need the training,” Applewhite said.

Hippocrates first opened in June 2016, operating out of a church basement. By the following January, the clinic had moved into the Court Street building.

At its beginning, the clinic had 14 members on its board, 15 providers, 16 staff volunteers and 12 students working for school credit.

In those days, Hippocrates Medical Clinic was run by Marcos Barajas, who founded the clinic in 2016.

In August 2017, the clinic was forced to close indefinitely after Barajas was arrested and charged with criminal sexual assault of a female juvenile who volunteered at the clinic.

The clinic reopened about a year later on Aug. 10, 2018. That’s when Applewhite became medical director. It has three providers and a physical therapist.

Thanks to the Lions Club, Hippocrates has been able to offer eye exams twice and audio exams once.

The third week after reopening, the clinic started drawing blood and sending it to a lab for analysis, with help from University of Illinois Hospital. It has completed 124 blood draws and 33 Pap smears.

The clinic has had eight people helping out at the front desk, four who assist in the medical area, one computer technician and one person who deals with building issues.

Since the reopening, Hippocrates has seen 347 patients — 117 male, 230 female, according to a clinic handout. Only 42 have had medical insurance.