Who They Serve

What Does A Free & Charitable Clinic Patient Look Like?

Most of our clinic patients are chronically ill, living with multiple co-morbities such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and COPD and need regular access to healthcare. Additionally, most clinic patients have jobs but cannot afford insurance. In fact, four out of five uninsured Virginians come from working families. These are our neighbors and friends who are fully employed or underemployed and do not earn enough to afford all of their basic necessities, such as healthcare. You most likely know someone who doesn’t have health insurance. These people include those with part-time and hourly jobs in food service, retail, construction, and the hospitality industry as well as self-employed and contract employees. The majority of uninsured Virginians are families living with incomes at or below 250% of the Federal Poverty Level. They would also not qualify for Medicaid in the expansion. The uninsured population also comes from a diverse racial and ethnic background across the state: Nearly half are white, a quarter are Hispanic and 20% are African American.

Are The Working Uninsured By Choice?

Most people without insurance, want insurance, but can’t afford it. When working families struggle to make ends meet, co-pays and medical bills become out of reach along with access to preventative care. These same families may also avoid addressing chronic conditions, such as diabetes, that may ultimately result in costly ER visits or hospitalizations. Some families don’t have the means to cover expenses incurred from healthcare. That’s why Virginia’s free clinics are so important. Clinics serve as an important safeguard resource for working families who can’t afford healthcare or health insurance.

Patient Stories


For most of her adult life, Deborah had little to no access to medical care. Lacking medical insurance, she didn't know what to do when she realized she was becoming very ill. Extremely lethargic and often unable to get out of bed in the morning, Deborah was also suffering bouts of vomiting. She was unable to keep a job or take care of herself. She learned about Chesapeake Care and made an appointment.

Together with a network of specialists, their team diagnosed her with Hepatitis C, high blood pressure and an iron deficiency that would require regular treatment including expensive iron infusions. Through their ongoing care, today she is healthier and employed. Deborah reports, "I would not be up and walking around, able to care for myself or hold down a job if it wasn't for Chesapeake Care and their wonderful staff and volunteers."


After decades of a successful career in sales, John found his job was phased out. With savings slipping away while he searched for new employment, he was suddenly struck down by Guillain–Barré syndrome – a rare and serious autoimmune disorder that attacks the nervous system. After being hospitalized for over a month, John came to the Arlington Free Clinic, weak and discouraged.

Because he had access to the clinic's comprehensive medical services, John received care for multiple health issues and, in time, regained his strength and his health. His life has turned back around and he once again has access to health care outside of the free clinic. Now he gives back by serving as a volunteer and a donor. "I know what it's like on the other side. I never expected to need free health care, but I shudder to think where I'd be without the Clinic."


Even after 10 years as a waitress, Cheryl doesn't make enough to meet all her basic needs and afford health insurance. On a good day, tips help her earn a living wage. Slow days with just a few customers make her want to cry. Health insurance just isn't an option - given the high deductibles for her severe migraines and anxiety. Without insurance, she couldn't afford a doctor to diagnose the cause of her dramatic weight loss that dropped her down to 90 pounds. The team at the Augusta Regional Clinic came to the rescue and today Cheryl is healthier than she's been in years. Cheryl says: "I love my job and my customers. Without the medical care I needed, I'd have lost it all."‚Äč


Working in the retail industry which lacked employer-sponsored health insurance and living paycheck to paycheck, Melanie went without coverage for most of her adult life getting by with over-the-counter meds and urgent care facilities. Until suddenly she couldn't. Worried she was having a heart attack, she was motivated to find care and her sister recommended Western Tidewater Free Clinic (WTFC).

The team at WTFC diagnosed her high blood pressure and was able to connect her with medication to alleviate her symptoms. Taking into consideration the whole person, they also got her into their dental programs and referred her out for necessary specialty care. Melanie immediately felt valued and in and good hands, “it’s great that people care and I’m blessed to find WTFC, because your health is important.”

A Lifesaving Investment

Working towards a Virginia where all people have access to comprehensive, quality healthcare by supporting and advocating for our member clinics so that hardworking individuals and families are protected from healthcare crises.