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Annual social deemed a success

PRINCETON — The First Presbyterian Church’s eighth annual ice cream social held on Saturday has been deemed a success.

Beth Schultz, who has played a significant role in the annual event, said it was well attended, there was good, competitive bidding on the live and silent auction items and Grandma Rosie’s ice cream was a hit.

While final numbers have yet to be determined, Schultz estimated about $20,000 was raised from the event. The monies raised will benefit the Bureau County Health and Wellness Clinic, which is now seeing a higher demand of patients with the new Affordable Care Act.

Currently, the clinic sees about 200 active patients, however Jean Babcock, executive director of the clinic, explained those numbers are increasing.

The new healthcare system has expanded medicaid for patients, yet many primary physicians are not taking new patients, according to Babcock.

“Just because (patients) have a Medicaid card doesn’t mean they can go to the doctor like they might need to. Part of our work here is based on giving them access to a primary physician without using the emergency room, which is a very expensive avenue to get medical care,” she explained. “Grant money has also pretty much dried up since the Affordable Care Act has been implemented, because in theory now everyone has insurance and they don’t.”

Patients who don’t have a doctor are assigned one by the state, and many times Babcock has seen area residents be assigned to doctors as far away as Dixon, Kewanee and even Marseilles. With many patients, transportation becomes a problem at that point and that’s when the clinic steps in and picks up those patients.

“The clinic has been a good safety net for many who are not as fortunate to have jobs, insurances and have to rely on a Medicaid care, but no doctor,” Babcock said.

The clinic has an operating budget of about $130,000 a year. A very small percentage is from patient donations. Most of the budget is balanced by private donations, community fundraisers, donations from church families throughout the county and if Babcock can round up a grant or two. The clinic sits on the property of the Covenant Ministries, who rent out the space to the clinic at a very affordable price.

The clinic has one nurse, Jamie Bond, on staff and five volunteer physicians, whom Babcock is grateful for their dedication.

“Our patients are very fortunate. They see the best primary doctors this county has to offer and they’re on their own time when they are here,” she said.

Babcock is happy to announce that Dr. Martin Faber, who recently retired from his private practice, has decided to donate more of his time to the clinic.

“We are very fortunate to have him as our medical director and one of our volunteer physicians. He is a terrific guy,” Babcock said.

Looking at the future of the clinic, Babcock is confident in saying the need will continue to be there.

“(The clinic) seems to grow on an annual basis and yet we try to hold the operating budget right where it’s at,” she said. “We try to do more with less, and I see that as being a pattern in the near future while we will be seeing more people with the same personnel and the same group of money.”

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