Crowds Gather for a Day of Free Healthcare


Regardless of the upcoming requirement for all Americans to sign up for a healthcare plan by march 31st, Some people will still be out of coverage. Such as the homeless.

It hasn't been Kevin Balcom's best year.

"Well, I've been out of work for about a year," said Balcom. "I used to work for First Student and they let me go."

Since then he's been living by the hands of friends of family. Food isn't easy to come by, so when he saw crowds gathered outside of Kumler Methodist Church he had to stop in.

"I thought they were going to have food tonight, and then they told me that they were having medical screenings," said Balcom. "And I figured I might as well, you know, check into it."

What he discovered was SIU School of Medicine's Free Community Health Clinic. Medical student, Karen Bertels says it's designed to help the homeless or anyone who is uninsured.

"We do a full comprehensive history and physical," said Bertels. "We screen everybody for high blood pressure.. BMI measurements. We're going to run labs on them based on what we think needs to be followed up with."

Because this isn't a one time service. Students and doctors at SIU School of Medicine check up on patients... To see if they need any urgent medical treatment.

"So students at the clinic that they see tonight will then call them personally," said BertelS. "We follow up with them on a weekly basis, sometimes monthly."

Kevin Balcom is thankful.

"I thank everybody."

And it's clear that everybody is happy to help. Patients not only got free check ups.. but they were paired with navigators to help them sign up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The next free clinic will be later this year.

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