NEW: RI Free Clinic Gets $75K From Blue Cross Blue Shield

Monday, October 22, 2012


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Money for primary care: Peter Andruskiewicz, CEO, BCBSRI; Marie Ghazal, CEO, Rhode Island Free Clinic; Dr. Herbert Rakatansky, Board Member, Rhode Island Free Clinic; Mark Waggoner, Senior Vice President of Network Management, BCBSRI.

The Rhode Island Free Clinic has received a donation of $75,000 from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (Blue Cross) that is aimed at expanding access to primary care for uninsured Rhode Island residents.  The gift from Blue Cross is another example of its continued commitment to the Clinic, which began seven years ago and has grown each year.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have such a wonderful partnership with Blue Cross,” stated Marie Ghazal, CEO, Rhode Island Free Clinic. "The continued support from Blue Cross helps sustain the Clinic so that we can provide health care for Rhode Island’s uninsured, working poor who need us the most.”

Supporting much-needed primary care

“Our partnership with the Rhode Island Free Clinic has given Blue Cross the opportunity to help improve the quality of life for some of the most vulnerable individuals in our state by facilitating access to free, high quality health care,” said Peter Andruszkiewicz, president and chief executive office for Blue Cross.  “At 14 percent, Rhode Island has the highest rate of uninsured of any New England state, leaving many with few options for health care.  We are grateful to organizations like the Clinic that help individuals obtain access to much needed and high quality medical care.”

The funding from Blue Cross will help the Clinic accomplish two critical goals by June, 2013, including:

  • Engage and support volunteer providers and community partners to increase primary care access by 20 percent to provide 9,000 patient visits per year.

  • Expand the Clinic’s Physicians Network—a group of physicians who agree to see Clinic patients at their practices, in cities and towns across Rhode Island—by 10 percent to 190 providers to help strengthen service in high-need areas throughout Rhode Island. 

 Through the years, ongoing support from Blue Cross has helped increase the number of patient visits, clinic hours and active volunteers at the Clinic.  The clinic has seen:

  • Patient visits quadruple from 2,000 to nearly 8,000 from 2008-2011

  • Clinic hours triple from 13 per week to 45 per week from 2009-2011

  • Active volunteers double from 347 to nearly 700 from 2009-2011

A history of collaboration

The clinic started working with Blue Cross in 2005 when the insurer started matching volunteer service with financial support, in an effort to recognize and bolster volunteerism.  The program kicked off with a $10,000 gift from Blue Cross, who then matched every volunteer hour worked at the Clinic with a $2 gift.  Blue Cross also provided $1,000 for every 50 hours of service from a new volunteer. 

Later, in 2009, the Clinic was able to expand its Physician Network program, which allowed the Clinic to reach and treat a significantly larger patient population by expanding their reach outside of the Clinic’s main location in Providence.  Blue Cross helped expand the program by giving $1,000 for each new physician volunteer who accepted one or more Clinic patients into his/her practice and $1,000 for each new physician who agreed to see patients at the Clinic’s location in Providence.

“We could not help as many patients as we do without the support of key partners like Blue Cross,” Ghazal added.


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