RICHMOND, Va. -- Free health clinics serve a big role when it comes to caring for those who are uninsured or underinsured.
During the pandemic, more people have begun to rely on free clinics for care due to job loss and lack of health benefits.
To help with the growing need, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced $3 million from CARES Acting funding will go towards free clinics.
The funds will help with COVID-19 expenses like PPE, sanitization measures, telehealth, and hiring new staff.
"The funding covers expenses from March through December of this year. So it's a huge support to the clinics," Rufus Philips, CEO of Virginia Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, said.
More than 60,000 Virginians use the clinics, according to the Virginia Association of Free Clinics. Half of the patients are Black or Latino, two populations who have been most vulnerable to the pandemic.
"The clinics have done a very good job in that sense," Philips said. "A lot of them provide screening and testing for COVID-19. The other thing they do which is really important, which is unfortunately a lot of the patients they serve that have chronic conditions and that makes them particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 and so the clinics have been trying to stay on top of those conditions for those patients to make sure they don't get worse."
The Virginia Association of Free and Charitable Clinics will be working with the Virginia Department of Health to distribute the funds, Philips said.
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