INDIANAPOLIS — Hundreds of medical professionals are volunteering their time to treat people who typically don’t have access to healthcare in Indianapolis.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2020 28 million people did not have health insurance at any point during the year.
Sunday was the first of four days that people took advantage of a free health clinic at Lucas Oil Stadium. If you are in need of free health care, you still can too.
"The problem with healthcare in the United States is that it isn't accessible to everybody,” Ivan Golubic, the CEO of Pathway to Health, said. “We have a large number of people who are either uninsured or under-insured. That's why people don't even go to see the doctor because they are afraid of the bill that is going to come afterwards even if they have some type of insurance."
That's where Pathway to Health comes in. They provide free medical, dental, and eye care to people who need it.
"We don't check IDs, we don't ask for insurance or any type of form of payments. Everybody is welcome,” Golubic said. “Everyone who has a need is welcome whether that’s uninsured or under-insured or anything like that."
While all these areas of health care are in high demand at the clinic, dental care is often the busiest area.
"Emergency rooms are often filled up because of dental needs and dental pain,” Dr. Nolan Lathrop, a volunteer dentist at the free clinic, said. “So, if we can alleviate some of those things by doing it right here we feel like we are being blessed. "
Lathrop said when volunteering for these free clinics, which are held all over the country, he typically performs 10 to 20 surgeries a day.
This free health care clinic was supposed to take place in 2020. Due to COVID-19, it was pushed back to this year. Volunteer medical professionals WRTV talked to said in some patients' cases, their needs have gotten worse due to limited access to healthcare during the pandemic.
"Some of these patients come and they either haven't had any medical care, or they have waited months or even years sometimes to be seen because they aren't able to get care, they don't have the financial means to do that, " Barbara Bolivar, a volunteer nurse at the free clinic, said.
A big part of this program is working with hospitals in the area to refer patients they treated. This practice is something medical professionals say is vital to recovering.
"If you don't have the follow up care to take care of your health problems, we are not able to complete that full circle to take care of the patients," Bolivar said.
Completing that circle as well as making sure everyone has access to health care is why these medical professionals continue to volunteer their skills to people in need.
"Health care should be accessible to every American I think it's just part of who we are,” Dr. Samuel Bolivar, who has volunteered with his wife at seven free clinics across the country, said. “Even if we don't have insurance, we should be able to go and see the doctor for our problems."
Pathway to Health said they will see roughly 1,000 patients every day the clinic is open. Outside of Sunday, the clinic is taking place Monday through Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Its website has more information.