“Free clinics have passed the point in history when they can exist below the radar. At the same time, policymakers and other safety net providers must acknowledge the important role that free clinics play. Formal integration of free clinics into the safety net has the potential to strengthen the overall health system, which is important regardless of the outcomes of the national health reform debate,” Julie S. Darnell of the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago

Pay attention to what’s happening in Virginia! Free and charitable clinics across the Commonwealth are making a statement during this pandemic. They have been on the front lines meeting the healthcare needs of people who may have lost their employer-sponsored health insurance because of a layoff, along with addressing the needs of traditionally underserved populations. As you might expect, the demand for their services has surged as a result of COVID19. Their response has included setting up COVID19 testing sites at a number of their clinics across the state. They also kept their clinics open during the pandemic while swiftly moving to offer virtual health services to their patients. And they’ve done all of this with minimal funding.

This increase in patient volume, along with the rise in pandemic-related operational costs and the reduction in fundraising opportunities, has placed a new level of financial strain on these essential providers of healthcare services to the state’s uninsured. At a time when the need for accessible healthcare in Virginia has never been more apparent, free and charitable clinics are facing what appears to be insurmountable challenges. In direct response to those challenges, the state’s free and charitable clinics are launching an awareness campaign to reach out to their communities, the public, and local businesses to drive greater understanding of their services and to encourage additional financial support. The campaign, initiated by the Virginia Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (VAFCC), is designed to inform potential patients, volunteers, and prospective donors. My firm, Jennings, has been honored to work with VAFCC on the development of this campaign, along with our partners at Eruptr. Below is one of the 30-second pre-roll videos from the campaign.

You’ll notice from the visuals and the language used in the campaign that a big part of what we set out to do was to change perceptions of free clinics. Despite what many believe, these clinics provide high-quality care thanks in large part to community physicians, nurses, PAs, and others who donate their time and resources. They also offer a quality patient experience, with the providers feeling less pressure to move quickly from one patient to another. The pace at most free clinics for the providers is more manageable, allowing them to spend more time with each patient.

Within the campaign, we also wanted to address misperceptions about who free clinics serve. Their patients look like you and me. They are often hard-working people who have fallen on hard times and cannot afford health insurance. They could very well be your neighbor. Frankly, they could be any of us if we were to face some catastrophic life event. Check out this video from the campaign to hear more about who free clinics serve.

At the heart of the campaign is a dedicated microsite with information for patients, donors, volunteers, and members of the media (potential sponsors). The campaign, launching today, will largely be driven by digital advertising and supported by public service announcements from media companies across the Commonwealth; and, with the help of generous sponsors, it should also include print ads, outdoor, and radio advertising. The VAFCC is excited to work with media outlets and other partners to raise awareness of the critical role free and charitable clinics play in providing care to the Commonwealth’s underserved. Importantly, they also hope to engage the public in a discussion on the need for accessible quality healthcare for all.

Introducing FreeClinicsCare.org. Please check it out. The site is loaded with content including more than a dozen videos addressing issues like health equity, access to quality care, Medicaid expansion, and more.

As mentioned above, the campaign also includes print ads, billboards, and digital ads. Here are a few examples of campaign elements. Click on the arrows below to scroll through some of the creative.

As part of the campaign, we produced 17 videos that tell the story of free and charitable clinics. To produce the videos, we interviewed volunteer providers, clinic administrators, board members, and patients. The microsite is populated with these videos. Of course, VAFCC will also be sharing the videos on its YouTube channel and via its various social media outlets. Below are a couple of the videos for your review.

1 comment on “Free Clinics Emerge!

  1. Nice article. I like informative articles like these.

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