Physicians Albert Adams, MD, and George Schneider, MD, share "the joy of healing" at the clinic.
Aurora West Allis Medical Center supports neighborhood free clinic
On Dec. 3, the Greater Milwaukee Free Clinic celebrated a major milestone - the clinic will have recorded nearly 25,000 patient visits, as it celebrates its 15-year anniversary. Since opening its doors in 1995, the clinic has provided more than $11 million in free medical services to patients. These numbers are especially impressive since the clinic operates solely on donated funds and volunteer services. It does not receive any government funding and has no paid staff.
Fifteen years ago George Schneider, MD, and his wife Kathleen recognized a community need and launched the clinic on a wing and a prayer. Since that time Kathleen has volunteered as the clinic's Executive Director and Dr. Schneider serves as Medical Director.
Located in the shadows of Aurora West Allis Medical Center, at 9330 W. Lincoln Ave., the clinic provides basic, free primary care for underserved working individuals who don't qualify for government programs and can't afford health insurance or regular medical care. With the downturn in the economy in recent years, the clinic has also begun treating the unemployed. More than 200 patients visits are recorded at the clinic each month.
A team of 80 volunteers, including about 40 physicians, supports the clinic's efforts. "We couldn't do this without the generosity of our volunteers," Kathy Schneider said. "Most free clinics only remain open for about two years and then close their doors because of lack of support."
While the clinic has overcome roadblocks along the way, its longevity remains a testament to the volunteers' unwavering commitment to a cause. It's living proof that a grassroots community effort can succeed, while enhancing the quality of life for area residents.
Operating on a tiny shoestring budget, the clinic is open every Tuesday and Thursday evening from 5 p.m. until the last patient is seen. Aurora West Allis Medical Center supports the clinic through donated lab work and imaging services. Kathy Schneider said, "Aurora has been good to us. Their support is critically important in our ability to give patients access to medical care, where barriers exist to that access through traditional channels."
The clinic also serves as a "hands on" first experience for the next generation of physicians. Kathy explained. "We have medical students who begin volunteering here shortly after they begin medical school. In addition to teaching them how to interact with patients, we hope to instill a sense of compassion, so they can truly live out the Hippocratic oath."
Dr. Schneider's ability to inspire volunteerism in his physician colleagues has been contagious. He said, "Helping patients like this is the greatest feeling in the world, and it probably explains why so many dedicated health professionals volunteer at the clinic." Dr. Schneider has been affiliated with Aurora West Allis Medical Center for more than 35 years.
The clinic continues to fill a health care void in the Milwaukee area, thanks to support from churches, civic organizations and private donations. Aurora caregivers volunteer their time at the clinic and the clinic is one of more than 1,600 internal and external funds supported through the Aurora Partnership Campaign (Fund #099709).
"Dr. Schneider and his wife are dedicated and selfless individuals who are committed to the greater good," said Rick Kellar, Aurora West Allis vice president and chief administrative officer. "The Schneiders have been health care champions of the working poor in the Milwaukee area for many years. They took it upon themselves to secure funding, supplies, lab services, a building to use as the clinic site and to recruit volunteers - to turn their dream of the clinic into reality."
Rick went on to say, "The Greater Milwaukee Free Clinic offers health care to those who might not receive care anywhere else. This clinic keeps people out of the hospital and in the workplace. Early medical care helps avoid costly complications, ultimately saving resources spent on additional treatment. Aurora West Allis Medical Center has been proud to be affiliated with this wonderful humanitarian effort throughout the years."
As the Greater Milwaukee Free Clinic celebrates this milestone anniversary, it's not only free a medical resource for those who need it most- but a priceless asset to our entire community.
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