Saturday, December 19, 2015

I'd Like to Buy the World a (Diet) Coke.

Some would say I just want to give the world a Coke. I say what's wrong with that?

We see so much poverty around us. It's heartbreaking knowing how our elderly are living around us. Here's a little something I want to share…

We awaken to a warm house with coffee already in the pot.
He awakens to a cold hard floor with cracks so wide, he can see the critters beneath who wait for the fire to get going.  He has some instant coffee, occasionally, if he had the money  to buy it.  I'm not sure he has firewood or the wherewithal to get it.
If he did, how does he get it to the house?
If necessary, we would get into our warm truck in the garage and go out a cut some wood. But in reality, we flip a switch and immediately have a fire in the fireplace, to enjoy as we sip that coffee. He could use the truck, to go out and gather some wood for the old wood stove,  but the holes in the floor board are bigger than those in the house…and he has to park it so far from the house and walk quite a distance back to the house. In the rain, snow and mud.
Since his momma died, life has seemed so much harder. She received a little check every month that helped pay the few bills they had, and when that last check hadn't been cashed after her death, he called to ask if they could cash it. Our great government told him he must return it and find his own way to pay those bills and buy the few groceries he would need to survive, along with his mentally disabled sibling who was left behind for him to care for.
They would spend the next several years surviving from the small check the sibling received, all the time avoiding any more government assistance, because he was too proud, yet at the same time, too embarrassed by his slight lisp and stutter, and the fact that he never learned to read, to attempt applying for assistance of any type, including Medicare and SSI.
Our hearts break for this situation and many others that are hidden in the nicks and crannies of our little mountain, but we swell with pride that there are people in the world, however forgotten, who still want to do the right thing and pay their own way.
I don't know what we will do to help them in the future, but as they age, the need is going to be great. Mobility issues will likely leave them stranded, or in a nursing home….except they have no insurance coverage for that. I'm  afraid a Coke is not enough this time.

These are my people. 

Mountain Health Clinic

Del Rio is a small town in upper East Tennessee surrounded by the Cherokee National Forest and the French Broad River.

In The Beginning

The idea for a clinic started with my cousin, Tina, and I on a road trip to Lake Lure, NC. It had humble beginnings as a free clinic because we didn't know what else to do, so we just did it free. 

First, we needed a place to hold the free clinic. The community center came to mind. We spoke with Tammy, went to the meeting of the board, and were approved to have it rent-free anytime it wasn't already booked.

We held our first clinic in September and saw ten people.

Second clinic, about 7 people.

We then decided there wasn't a great interest in this free endeavor and people were asking us to open a "real clinic." There were many Medicare and Medicaid patients in the area.

I started by hiring my friend, Dawn, to help with the credentialing.
Things we learned:

First: come up with a clinic site. We were lucky with the Community Center, but it will be more expensive when we outgrow it. They even had a phone and free wi-fi.
I spent $800 on an attorney and probably didn't need to. He did the LLC paperwork and drew up the articles of Organization.
Get a clinic name (LLC). This was $300.00
Get a supervising physician if required. This will cost whatever you and he/she decide.
Get insurance. $1100 - $
Once you have the LLC, you will need to get a business license in the County where the clinic is located. You can have the billing/mailing address at your house even if it's in another county. This was $15.
While you are at the court house, you will need to go to the Register of Deeds office and file/register your Articles of Organization. This was $7.

You'll need someone to help you with the credentialing paperwork if you have a full time day job, because hours and hours are spent on the phone, on hold and getting nowhere fast. If it's an option, use email first - we got quicker answers that way. 

Go to the Medicare website cms/gov and update your profile. You can do this online. I found I was still credentialed with four previous employers and had to remove them. 

Go to the Medicaid site for your state and look for provider links and follow the instructions. This, again, gets very frustrating and cumbersome. If you have someone who's done this before, it will help tremendously.