Doctors of the World has officially opened its doors, and the Rockaways have a new, free health clinic during a time some have called a “health crisis in the borough.”
This is the first and only location in the country for Doctors of the World, which offers services in 79 other countries. Set at 2-30 Beach 102nd Street, it provides free primary medical services.
“We’ve had an overwhelming response so far,” said Dr. Amber Featherstone, medical director at the new clinic.
Featherstone previously worked overseas in Africa with Doctors Without Borders, and is excited to continue work with an international organization. She said she sees some parallels with patients stateside and those abroad.
“Patients don’t have access to good care,” she said. “They wait until they’re really sick to get care, or they care for themselves as best they can, but they are not able to fully fund the medication they need. The problems become more complicated because of that.”
Featherstone hopes that she and her team can get patients “some kind of medical insurance coverage, or help them get more stabilized in care,” she said, and be available to the people who aren’t getting the “continuous care they need.”
Currently, the Rockaway office, aside from Featherstone, has a clinic manager and a nurse manager. They are looking for volunteers, including medical providers, nurse practitioners, nursing staff, medical assistants and anybody who can perform administrative services.
“Especially people who are local and want to give something back,” Featherstone said.
As of now, operating hours are Thursdays from noon to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., but Featherstone expects those days and hours to increase if they maintain the current customer volume. They are already booked solid for the next two weeks.
The majority of their clientele, Featherstone said, are patients needing a full, physical exam. “People who have been out of care, trying to hold it together for medical coverage,” she said.
A handful of patients prior to visiting Doctors of the World were paying out of pocket for things such as diabetes medicine. Now, Doctors is trying to establish partnerships with medical providers so as to ease the cost for patients.
The group has already formed a partnership with St. John’s Episcopal Hospital for lower radiology rates, as well as Rite Aid for Medicaid rates.
However, for the first month of care, Doctors of the World is able to cover medication cost, but they “don’t have the funding to continue to cover long-term,” Featherstone said. They are hoping to get more funding for “that particular cost in the near future.”
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