Robin M. Ott, MPA, CVA, is the Director of Community Engagement at the Lake County Free Clinic, which serves people throughout northeast Ohio, including Geauga County citizens.

Editor’s note: Part of GCPL’s mission is to provide access to resources that people need. In line with this goal, Lake County Free Clinic provides free health resources to people who need help. Although the clinic is located in Painesville, it also serves Geauga County citizens. We thank Robin Ott for providing this valuable information.

In December, the State of Ohio celebrates Free Clinic Appreciation Month. And for good reason – the U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2016 that 8.4% of Geauga County residents were uninsured. Many residents have insurance through the state Marketplace, but find that there are co-pays or a high deductible they cannot pay. Despite living in a community rich in resources, health care is a necessity many of our neighbors cannot afford. Often, they suffer from chronic disease and know they are not well, but it is not until it becomes a medical emergency that they can seek care. It is also not uncommon for those living paycheck to paycheck to have to choose between buying their medicine or keeping food on the table.

But there is hope not too far away – Lake County Free Clinic (LCFC) is a private not-for-profit 501c3 organization that exists to provide medical and dental care to neighbors in need. They are the only free clinic in Lake, Geauga or Ashtabula county. They are located in downtown Painesville but have no residency requirements. The clinic provides primary medical care for adults & children, as well as tooth extractions, dental exams, and fillings. These services include diagnosis and treatment for chronic diseases such as asthma, high blood pressure and heart disease, and diabetes. They also can provide physicals for work and school, treatment for rashes, colds/flu or other non-life threatening illnesses, and much more. There is a limited on-site pharmacy available to patients, and basic lab work is often done on-site to eliminate patients having to go around town to fill lab orders or prescriptions. All care is provided by appointment only. To make an appointment or learn about specific services, individuals should call 440-352-8686 during business hours.

They are a “true” free clinic. This means at they do not receive any public or private insurance reimbursement – care is made possible only thanks to the generosity of individual donors, United Way, foundations and events. A donation is requested at the time of service, but no one is turned away and there is not a sliding scale fee. Paid staff are supported by a team of licensed and certified volunteer providers, nurses and other clinical support staff. These individuals contribute their time and experience to allow the clinic to increase its ability to serve more patients. But the need continues to grow and new volunteers are welcome – interested licensed and certified providers and clinical staff who feel called to serve are encouraged to complete an inquiry form online.

Anyone interested in learning more, or getting involved, may contact info@lakefreeclinic.org or are encouraged to visit their [lakefreeclinic.org ]website or connect on social media.

Robin enjoys reading literary fiction, among other genres. Her current book is Dare to Lead by Brene Brown.