BY EMILY MANSFIELD
Stop and think for a few seconds: wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone could afford the healthcare they need? In today’s society people have to pay for medical services that are insanely expensive.
Have you ever thought about those people who are sick or have a chronic disease who can’t afford insurance or a visit with the doctor? There are about 2,899 people who are uninsured in Charlevoix county alone.
Everyone deserves the same opportunities to receive quality healthcare. One person who decided he didn’t want to turn his back on those who could not pay was Dr. Richard Mansfield, my grandpa.
I hear the stories. The stories of how my Grandpa used to exchange care for fresh eggs, hand cut wood, or someone mowing his lawn, because he never wanted to turn anyone away. He believes it is God’s purpose for him to serve others. That is why he founded the Boyne Area Free Clinic in 2007.
The clinic provides free primary care, immunizations, and urgent care services to those who can’t afford health insurance or are ineligible for medicare and medicaid coverage. Patients can walk in and receive the help they need with dignity, without having to pay unattainable prices or having to worry about government restrictions that prevent them from receiving the care they need. The clinic is open every Friday and sees up to 45 people each week.
The Free Clinic is dependent on the generosity of the community. The staff is made up of hard working men and women who donate their free time. Most are retirees who want to continue to help people even after they have already dedicated their whole lives for the sake of others.
They are happy to be able to practice medicine the way it is suppose to be; not having to worry whether the patient’s insurance will cover the medication they need, or waiting to get prior approval for a test when getting the results one week sooner could make a difference in their recovery.
One of those retirees is my grandpa who is currently the only physician working at the Free Clinic. All the money for the clinic comes from donations.
Whether it is a church offering, business contribution, or a small donation from a grateful patient, every penny helps. One hundred dollars could pay for someone’s life saving medicine, three little kid’s immunizations, or a dental screening that could provide early cancer detection. Every small contribution could make a big difference in someone’s life.
Picture someone you hold close to your heart: your grandma, brother, mom, son. Now imagine them in pain, sick, or maybe even dying and you are powerless to stop it; you are trapped behind a wall made of something as useless as a few pieces of green paper. Panic overtakes you. This is the reality of many people.
The Free Clinic is the solution. It erases the worry of not being able to give your family the things it needs to stay healthy because you can’t afford health insurance.
The Boyne Area Free Clinic has diagnosed chronic illnesses like asthma and heart disease, found cancer, casted countless bones, helped people receive the treatment they need, and provided the medication needed for diabetics and other long term diseases.
My grandpa, the Boyne Area Free Clinic, and I all believe that healthcare is not a privilege but a right. Grandpa and his passion to help all others fills me with a warm pride.
Every time I hear about all of the lives he has touched, I swell with amazement. He became a doctor to help all people. He came to Boyne City and has spent forty-seven years taking care of all of us.
He opened the Free Clinic to make sure everyone got the medical services they needed, no matter their financial state. Every individual person is important and worth helping; we all need the courage to give them a helping hand.