The C.A.R.E. Clinic, a free clinic in Red Wing, Minnesota, received an American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation Family Medicine Cares grant in fall 2021 to replace an old/broken centrifuge machine and EKG.
Since the C.A.R.E. Clinic opened in 2010, it has provided a variety of primary care services to the Red Wing and Goodhue County communities, including dental care, mental health care and help navigating MNsure.
We asked C.A.R.E. Clinic Executive Director Julie Malyon to tell us more about the clinic and the community it’s serving.
Why start a free clinic in Red Wing?
A group of medical and mental health professionals noticed that many patients were foregoing routine and acute health care because of costs and difficulties navigating the health care system.
Beyond simply being a free clinic, C.A.R.E. Clinic takes a holistic approach so that patients can receive all forms of health care that they need in our “one-stop shop” model, without the difficulties of coordinating care across clinics and finding clinics that will accept their insurance or are affordable.
Who staffs the clinic?
C.A.R.E. Clinic has medical, dental, mental health, social services and office support staff and is also supported by around 200 volunteers in a variety of ways, including providing care, interpretation, data entry and legal assistance. Many of our staff and volunteers are bilingual in Spanish and English and bicultural, which is crucial to providing culturally, linguistically sensitive services to the Hispanic patients in our community.
What services are offered?
C.A.R.E. Clinic provides free medical care, prescription assistance, mental health care and psychotherapy, optical services and MNsure navigation services. Recently, we have taken steps to fill COVID-19 related service gaps by offering free vaccines, rapid testing and telehealth. We also provide free and affordable dental care for eligible uninsured and publicly insured patients. We are currently expanding the reach of our free dental services for children by branching out and providing services in public schools.
Does the clinic have local partners?
Yes. C.A.R.E. Clinic receives in-kind donations from Mayo Clinic Health System, including our clinic space, radiology and laboratory services, and Mayo also refers uninsured patients to our clinic. We also partner with Goodhue County Health and Human Services to address community public health needs and provide community outreach and education and work closely with Hispanic Outreach of Goodhue County and the Hispanic Family Therapy Program.
Tell us about the community you’re serving.
C.A.R.E. Clinic serves the uninsured, publicly insured, low-income and minority populations within the Red Wing and Goodhue County communities. Despite how picturesque Red Wing may be, many of our community members are harmed by economic disparities, which manifest in health care disparities as well. These economic disparities are exacerbated by Red Wing’s rural location, which limits the variety of affordable services near our patients.
Along with free medical care, C.A.R.E. Clinic has become particularly invested in filling the gaps in access to affordable dental care and mental health services, especially bilingual mental health services. Many of the surrounding dental clinics do not accept uninsured or publicly insured patients, and there are limited bilingual therapy services south of the Twin Cities in general. However, C.A.R.E. Clinic recognizes that these are aspects of our patients’ health that absolutely cannot be skipped over and is constantly seeking to expand these services for our community.
Find the C.A.R.E. Clinic online at careclinicrw.com.