Editorial: Proposed clinic a positive step for Coles County health care

Coles County could soon be home to a free clinic in about a year, and with the number of uninsured people in the area, a free clinic is a great idea.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 10.9 percent of Coles County residents were uninsured in 2000.

The Census Bureau stated about 5,300 people in Coles County were uninsured while 43,275 were insured.

In Illinois alone, about 13.4 percent of its residents were uninsured in 2000, the Census Bureau stated.

There is no reason for anyone to go without medical care and the free clinic would help those who can’t get insurance, whether it’s because they lost their job or do not have the income to support it.

Mike Murray, president of Coles Community Health Program, the organization trying to build the free clinic, said the clinic would be built on the east side of Mattoon and would take up about 2,700 to 3,000 square feet.

Murray said in the next six months the organization hopes to begin construction of the building and, in a year, have it open and functioning.

According to the organization’s Web site, www.colescommunityclinic.org, its mission is to “bring greater access to primary care services” in accordance with the Community Health Improvement Center of Decatur.

The site said it would benefit the community by reducing the burden on the hospital emergency department, improving access to other health care providers and employing six to eight office support staff, one or two nurse practitioners and a part-time medical doctor.

Currently, the closest free clinic to Mattoon and Charleston, as well as the rest of Coles County, is in Champaign.

Champaign isn’t exactly close when you are in need of medical assistance, so a clinic in Coles County should be supported.

The Coles Community Health Program currently has half of the funds it needs to open the clinic.

Murray said about $360,000 of the $600,000 needed has been raised. The organization might receive some stimulus money, about $300,000 to $350,000, to cover the rest.

However, on the organization’s Web site, there is a place to donate; granted, most college students do not have the means to donate a lot, but a little bit can help, especially if the community does too.

Support a free clinic that could possibly help you or your fellow community members.

The editorial is the majority opinion of The DEN editorial board. Reach the opinions editor at [email protected].