Community Free Clinic Funded by Endowment

In a community with a fair portion of its residents facing hard times, whether physically or financially, there have been several avenues of assistance, whether it be a food pantry, the Salvation Army soup kitchen or other such endeavors.

But for those needing medical assistance, however, it wasn’t until 2004 – and the generosity of one local family – that a vital avenue, the Community Free Clinic, was established.

A staple at First United Methodist Church since that time, the Community Free Clinic – operated by Connersville resident, Dr. Joanne Guttman – has provided basic health care, at no charge, to those in the community in need of such care.

Opening a free health clinic in Connersville had always been a dream of Guttman’s, who has a family medicine practice in Brookville, and in 2004 – thanks in part to the generosity of Guttman’s in-laws, Jane and Gene Guttman, various other donors and the Fayette County Foundation – that dream became reality.

The Gene and Jane Guttman Community Free Clinic Endowment was established at that time with the FCF, and since then has provided annual grants from the endowment to the Community Free Clinic, in order to continue its service to the community.

Earlier this year, the endowment provided $1,200 to the clinic, which will be used to pay for the many needed healthcare supplies. The nursing staff, including Guttman, volunteer their time at the clinic. “The biggest expense is lab work,” commented Ava Moore, a volunteer at the clinic since its beginning who handles all paperwork and finances. “We really appreciate the Fayette County Foundation’s generosity in the beginning to help us get started, and now with the Gene and Jane Guttman Community Free Clinic Endowment, we have the funds to help us provide medication, pay for lab tests, and things we need.”

The clinic, which is open every second Thursday at First United Methodist Church from 6 to 8 p.m., began as a weekly effort on the part of Guttman, the volunteer nurses, volunteer receptionist and others.

“This is really an outlet for people who have no way of getting their basic health care needs,” Guttman said.

And needed it was for local residents, many at the time who were without health insurance coverage. A line of people could often sighted outside the church, hours before the clinic opened, waiting to be seen. An average of 25 patients are seen at the clinic when it’s open.

Guttman’s wish, in 2009, was that at some point, the clinic wouldn’t need to be open four times a month – meaning that something had been done, on the federal level, to assist citizens with obtaining health insurance. Such a wish occurred with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, and now, the clinic only has to be open one day a month as many of those who previously utilized the clinic now have health coverage.

 Regardless, Guttman and her group of volunteers still open once a month to help those with health issues, whether it be hypertension, depression, diabetes or other ailments.

And, much like a portion of the Hippocratic Oath – taken by doctors around the world – states, it continues to be “For the benefit of the sick,” thanks in part to the Guttman family and the Fayette County Foundation.