Community Steps Forward to Keep Doors Open at Portland Community Free Clinic

1/7/2013 -

Community Steps Forward to Keep Doors Open at Portland Community Free Clinic
Mayor thanks community for support of clinic


PORTLAND, Maine –Today, City of Portland Mayor Michael Brennan announced that foundation and community support for the Portland Community Free Clinic had reached more than $90,000 securing the clinic’s continued operation through the rest of the year. Last month, the Emanuel & Pauline A. Lerner Foundation committed $25,000 in a challenge grant to support the continued operation of the Portland Community Free Clinic. In response, several local foundations including the John T. Gorman Foundation, the Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program, the Margaret E. Burnham Charitable Trust as well as more than a dozen local businesses and community members stepped forward to support this critical asset.

Upon learning of the challenge grant, an anonymous donor stepped forward with a $25,000 donation provided through the Maine Community Foundation satisfying the challenge grant and bringing the initial total of funds raised to $50,000. In explanation, the donor stated that upon learning about the key services the clinic provides and the financial challenges it faces, “I felt inspired to make the match.” Shortly thereafter, the John T. Gorman Foundation contributed $25,000 and this coupled with $5,000 from the Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program, $10,000 from the Margaret E. Burnham Charitable Trust and donations from other groups brings the total of funds raised to a little more than $93,000. These donations will help the Portland Community Free Clinic remain open during these challenging financial times.

“I want to thank the community for their quick action in support of the Portland Community Free Clinic,” stated Mayor Brennan. “The clinic is successful thanks to the dozens of volunteers who give their time every week in service to those without insurance and now thanks to contributions from the community, the clinic will remain open for 2013. As we look towards the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, I am hopeful that continued support of the clinic will keep this population from slipping through the cracks. It is crucial for the well-being of our community that all including the working poor have access to preventative and specialized care.”

“We saw our grant to the Portland Free clinic as an opportunity to partner with other foundations to help an important community resource develop a more viable plan for the future while at the same time not disrupting critical services to folks that depend on them for help,” stated Tony Cipollone, President and CEO of the John T. Gorman Foundation.

“I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all the individuals and organizations who have responded generously to the needs of the free clinic at this crucial time,” remarked Caroline Teschke, MC Program Manager of India Street Clinical Services.

First opened in 1993, the Portland Community Free Clinic has provided free primary and specialty care to thousands of uninsured, low-income adults living in the Greater Portland area. The clinic offers health care to the working poor, individuals who earn too much money to qualify for MaineCare, but not enough to buy private insurance or pay sliding scale fees at other medical providers. It is the only clinic in the area that serves patients who earn up to 250% of the Federal Poverty Level at no cost (for a single person this represents a full-time wage of $13.50 per hour).

The clinic is a program of the city’s Public Health Division and has functioned primarily with the volunteer support of providers with nearly one hundred physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, and clerical staff donating their time to provide primary health care to the clinic’s patients. Clinic staff has also cultivated a community of specialists to provide free services for patients that require care beyond their scope. For eighteen years, the clinic functioned in partnership with a local health care provider, who funded operational expenses through a generous annual donation. A little more than a year ago, the funder made the decision to discontinue the donation, and in response, the city committed to providing gap funding to allow the team of volunteers and supporters of the clinic time to identify an alternate source of funding for the $110,000 annual budget. Today’s announcement will allow the program to maintain its operations through the year. Volunteers and city staff will continue to fundraise for the clinic to ensure its operation through the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The federal legislation is expected to provide expanded access to health insurance for low-income adults and their families, which should allow for the transfer of these patients to local health care providers.

The anonymous donation grant was made through a donor-advised fund, a flexible vehicle for individual and family philanthropy at the Maine Community Foundation. With offices in Ellsworth and Portland, the Maine Community Foundation works with donors and other partners to improve the quality of life for all Maine people. To learn more about the foundation, visit mainecf.org.

The John T. Gorman Foundation advances ideas and opportunities that can improve the lives of disadvantaged people in Maine. To achieve the greatest impact, the Foundation has a special interest in strengthening families and helping communities provide them with the supports and opportunities they need to thrive. This focus on strengthening families reflects our founder, Tom Gorman’s recognition that his personal success and achievement were largely derived from the support provided to him by his family and community, as well as his desire to provide those less fortunate with opportunities to succeed.
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