We are introducing two new efforts at Care Practice to expand our growing community role. The first is the newly established Care Fund and the expansion of our Volunteer Partnerships Program.
We have always believed that our success and growing popularity in the community is due largely to efforts providing medical services to underserved patients at reduced prices through trades and donating of services to local community organizations. We were inspired by our Art for Medicine program where we supported local artists by trading artwork for services. This quickly expanded to trades for dog walking, gardening, massage, food preparation, chiropractic care, acupuncture treatments, carpentry, and computer services. Even the two DJs that played at our grand opening party became a part of the Care Practice patient family.
This unique philosophy at Care Practice has encouraged each doctor to find ways to support the community in their own unique ways. These relationships fostered an atmosphere at our clinic that supported personalization, creative care, and integration into the broader community. For our patients knowing that a portion of their visit fees were going to fund discounted services helped to fuel our rapid growth. Click here to read Game Changer’s article about Care Practice in 2009.
The Care Practice Fund
We created this fund in an effort to secure more money for expensive lab tests and medical treatments for significantly ill patients that are unable to afford them by themselves. At first this began with us absorbing the costs when we ran up against a wall with what a patient could afford and what was needed medically for treatment. These experiences were so successful and the patients so grateful that we realized we needed to secure more money to allow us to treat more of our established patients with significant chronic illnesses. We also were giving care for free to some of our close friends and asking them to donate money to non-profits. We thought that it would be better if we had them contribute to a fund that we could then use to deliver discounted services. We will be starting a large crowd-sourced fundraiser in the coming months and will be donating all physician hours in use of the Funds money when we treat established underserved patients with chronic illnesses. As an organization that has been almost exclusively born out of the social media phenomenon we felt it fitting to use new social media platforms that raise money through crowd sourcing platforms to expand our established program.
Volunteer Partnerships Program
We are currently negotiating formal relationships with a few organizations to allow our patients to trade volunteer activities at local Bay Area non-profits in exchange for free visits at Care Practice. In an effort to give more back to the community we want to funnel volunteers to established non-profits and community centers in exchange for free visits to Care Practice for established patients who have fallen on hard times or who are simply unable to pay for services. Currently we are getting 5 requests a month for people requesting to volunteer at Care Practice and unfortunately due to the size of our office we are unable to accept most requests beyond medical students who have done rotations at our clinic. Under this program patients will bring in a time sheet signed off by the volunteer coordinator of our partner organizations and they will be able to exchange them for free medical visits at Care Practice.
Our goal from the inception of Care Practice has always been to create a Care Practice non-profit sister organization. We still have this as our ultimate goal, but for now these programs are the way we are beginning to formalize relationships to give more back to the broader community that we serve.
At this time we are only able to offer these programs to Established Patients. To date we have seen well over 6,000 patients and are currently building efforts to support existing relationships. When we finally set up our non-profit we will be able to focus on providing services to new groups of patients. We are also unable to offer sliding scale visits at this time because our clinic is based on a very simple structure of low overhead with minimal staffing per physician. We simply don’t have the infrastructure to deal with billing people or staffing to do income verifications. We would rather give services away for free to existing patients through our volunteer program or the Care Practice Fund rather than add cost and complexity to our very streamlined operations.