Health clinic helps those in need

Gwen Maloney is a nurse by training. But she's now using that care and empathy which so often goes with her profession to operate a free health clinic in downtown Cape Girardeau.

Samaritan Regional Health Clinic is open two days per week, limited primarily because of when health care professionals are available.

"Hospitals have needed the nurses; they've needed some of the nurse practitioners we've had. They're getting sick, too, you know," Maloney told the Southeast Missourian. "One time, one of our providers called me and said, 'We've got three nurse practitioners and they're all out with COVID.'"

The pandemic has certainly led to an increased patient count. Maloney told reporter Monica Obradovic the clinic was seeing 50 patients a month pre-pandemic. Now, the number is up to 80.

The clinic only serves patients without health insurance, Medicaid or Medicare. "We furnish health care only to the people who have nothing and reach 200% of the poverty level or below," Maloney said. "Usually, when they first come here, we have them apply to Southeast patient assistance. When they get that, that tells us they fall within that area we serve."

The clinic also helps patients who can't afford their medication apply for assistance through NeedyMeds, a not-for-profit helping those in need of assistance. Maloney tells patients not to be ashamed and tries to help people who "fall through the cracks."

It's certainly inspiring to see the good work taking place, and clearly Maloney and her team have a heart for helping those most in need. That's commendable -- especially during a global pandemic.