Free Dallas clinic serves hundreds of uninsured in one day

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on September 30, 2012 at 12:19 PM

DALLAS — Texas leads the nation when it comes to the number of people without health insurance. So crowds were huge on Saturday when a group offered free check-ups.

For a few hours, the Dallas Convention Center turned into the country's largest doctor's office. Dozens of nurses and physicians treated more than a thousand people free of charge.

The Hernandez family took advantage of the offer, unable to afford health insurance for their young son Jason.

"Since he hasn't been to a doctor's appointment, we thought we would get him checked," said mom Susan Hernandez.

Visits to the doctor are rare for Jason, even though he has suffered from asthma for two years.

"I thought i was going to get a needle shot, which I was going to get scared, but apparently they're just going to do something with my nose," Jason said.

This clinic, organized by several charities, is the first chance many families have had to visit a doctor.

"To me it was just such a blessing," said Michelle Oduneye.

One-quarter of all Texans don't have health insurance — the highest rate in the country. Six people showed up so sick, they had to be rushed to a hospital.

For others, follow-up care is also offered.

"This isn't a one and done deal," said Nicole Lamoureaux, executive director of the National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics. "This is a place that's a point of entry into the health care system."

Volunteers offered health screenings, immunizations, and even glasses; nearly 60 pairs were given to children.

It was figuratively — and literally — a shot in the arm for North Texas families without health insurance coverage.

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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