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Uninsured patients keep turning to OMMC

 

With more businesses in the service industry hiring part-time-only employees, the working, uninsured population in Lafayette County has increased. With no health insurance, many have a hard time receiving needed medical care.

The Oxford Medical Ministries Clinic has been open for almost 10 years, its volunteers working diligently to help provide medical care to people with jobs and no health insurance.

Since Mississippi elected not to expand Medicaid, the working poor, earning less than $22,000 a year, cannot find health insurance premiums they can afford, says OMMC Director Marlene Bishop.

“We’ve gained 88 new patients since January,” she said Monday.

Basic medical care

The clinic offers basic medical care to uninsured, employed Lafayette and Yalobusha County residents, and even provides patients with free prescriptions with the exception of narcotic pain medications.

Since it’s opened, the clinic has given more than $2 million worth of prescriptions to its patients.

“That’s our biggest expense,” Bishop said. “With new drugs, we can often get (them) free from the drug company. But once they lose their patent and there’s a generic, we have to pay for them.”

OMMC is funded solely by private donations. Local physicians and nurse practitioners volunteer their time at the clinic. Patients are seen on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. There are also nighttime appointments available.

Patients have to be employed, ineligible for insurance or Medicaid and able to provide OMMC with two recent pay stubs and a copy of their previous year tax return.

“There is such a need for this,” Bishop said. “The demand is here. We’re growing all the time.”

Bishop said many of the patients have two jobs since finding full-time work has become more difficult.

“They’re working 30 hours a week but since they aren’t working 32 hours, their employers are not required to provide health insurance,” she said.

Bishop said many of the patients have serious health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure, mostly likely due to not being able to have regular medical check-ups and be under a doctor’s care.

The clinic is not set up to handle emergency medical conditions.

“If you have a cold, we can treat you,” she said. “If you fall off a ladder and break your leg, you have to go to the ER.”

The clinic has three physicians and two nurse practitioners who joined OMMC last year.

“It’s allowed us to be able to see more patients and offer more clinic hours,” she said. “The physicians all have their own practices and they prefer to come after work and do the night clinics, where the nurse practitioners can be here during the day.”

Local service clubs often donate personal hygiene items which allows OMMC to give its patients “goody bags” about every three months with toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, soap and other items.

Bishop said OMMC has about 1,100 patients on their books, with about 350 to 400 active patients who are seen regularly.

“We had 47 patients when I started here in 2007,” she said. “We’ve helped a lot of folks.”

Prospective patients call to make a financial evaluation appointment to see if they eligible. They must have a photo ID, Social Security Card, a bill in their name that shows their address, two pay stubs and their 2015 tax return.

“Once they meet the income guidelines, we set them up an appointment to meet with one of our nurse practitioners,” she said. “If necessary, they are then set up to see one of the physicians.”

To make a donation to Oxford Medical Ministries, mail a check to 205 S. Commerce Cove, Oxford MS 38655 or visit the clinic, located behind the Dollar General off Highway 7 South. For more information, call 662-234-1374.