ROANOKE, Va. – The coronavirus pandemic has caused many people to lose their jobs and in turn, their health insurance, putting a huge strain on clinics that provide health care for free.
Two and a half years ago, Reggie Long was rushed to the hospital for a health scare that was also a financial scare.
“I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know where to go. They said they were going to release me but I needed a place to go. I needed special help, special attention or I wouldn’t be able to make it,” said Long, who’s a patient at the Bradley Free Clinic.
That’s when Long found the Bradley Free Clinic in Roanoke.
“I know I couldn’t afford it nowhere else. I wouldn’t be around ‘cause I don’t think I would’ve made it two weeks after that and here it is, two and a half years,” Long said.
Long’s story is one of many at the clinic, providing much-needed health care for low-income and uninsured people. Since the start of COVID-19, that population in the Star City has skyrocketed.
“I wasn’t expecting this. We weren’t expecting this,” said Janine Underwood, executive director of the Bradley Free Clinic.
Underwood said they’ve seen record numbers of new patients, registering 45 last week alone, compared to an average of 10 a week before the pandemic.