SPOKANE, Wash. — Staff of the People’s Clinic, a community health care clinic managed and operated by the Intercollegiate College of Nursing/Washington State University College of Nursing, know firsthand the problems families face without medical insurance.

The clinic, and others across the country, will be part of “Cover the Uninsured Week,” a national campaign sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation intended to spotlight the growing issue of the more than 41 million Americans who have no health insurance. The major national campaign has been underway for several weeks leading up to the official nationwide recognition events to be held March 10-16.

People’s Clinic was established with significant funding from the RWJF and has been serving the needs of Spokane County’s uninsured and underinsured population since 1998 from its flagship location at the YWCA in downtown Spokane. People’s Clinic serves more than 300 patients each month.

The clinic is maintained by funding from many local and national foundations, agencies, organizations and individuals concerned about health care for those who might otherwise not have access to primary care services. People’s Clinic at the YWCA is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and offers primary, preventative, acute and chronic health care services, mental health services, well-child exams and immunizations.

The personal, business and community issues of the uninsured and underinsured are a major factor in Spokane County and affects approximately 130,000 county residents.

According to a 2002 Washington State Population Survey:
— More than 43,000 people in Spokane County are uninsured
— Of that number, 75 percent are working
— Forty-three percent have jobs that do not offer any health insurance

“The local layoffs and downturn in the economy have impacted the local uninsured and underinsured population,” said Loly Reyes, People’s Clinic outreach services manager. “Most people who lack health coverage work for businesses that do not offer health
benefits, or the benefits offered are too expensive for employees with modest incomes to afford.”

In addition to the People’s Clinic location at the YWCA, 829 W. Broadway Ave., People’s Clinic West, located on the Intercollegiate College of Nursing/WSU College of Nursing campus at 2917 W. Fort George Wright Dr., serves students of the WSU College of Nursing and Spokane Falls Community College. The Havermale School clinic at 1300 W. Knox Ave., Room 114A, is open one day per week to serve students and families and is staffed and managed by People’s Clinic nurse practitioners. The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, serving four Spokane School District elementary school sites each week, is staffed and managed by People’s Clinic nurse professionals.

“We’re providing health care services for children, adults, families and college students throughout Spokane County,” Reyes said. “We accept most forms of insurance including Medicare, Medicaid and Washington Basic Health at all of our locations, and we encourage and help clients without insurance sign up for the Washington Basic Health plan. Clients are advised of the sliding fee structure, however, no one is turned away for an inability to pay.”

The Cover the Uninsured Week multi-media campaign is designed to focus the attention of the nation’s leaders on the growing number of uninsured Americans. Recent studies by the Institute of Medicine, funded by the RWJF, document that uninsured Americans are sicker and die younger than those with health coverage. Findings from the studies can be found online at www.coveringtheuninsured.org and include:

— The uninsured frequently delay or avoid needed medical care because they cannot afford to seek proper medical attention
— Eight out of 10 uninsured Americans are in working families
— Of the nation’s 41 million uninsured, 8.5 million are children, about 17 million are ages 18-34, and about 16 million are ages 35-64

Established in 1968, the Intercollegiate College of Nursing/WSU College of Nursing is the nation’s first, oldest and most comprehensive nursing education consortium. The College of Nursing offers baccalaureate, graduate and professional development course work to nursing students enrolled through its four consortium partners, Eastern Washington University, Gonzaga University, WSU and Whitworth College. Each year the college educates more than 600 graduate and upper-division undergraduate students and prepares more entry-level nurses than any other state educational institution. For more information about the College of Nursing and People’s Clinic visit the Web site at nursing.wsu.edu.