Letters will soon be sent to hundreds of unemployed Washington residents advising them of free and reduced-cost health care, compliments of the federal government.
The East of the River Community Health Center in Anacostia will contact residents identified by three neighborhood city unemployment offices to seek those eligible for help. The clinic serves 14,000 patients in one of the city's poorest areas.
The clinic, which is receiving $303,523 this week in federal money, is one of several area community health centers arranging health care for the jobless as they begin receiving some of the $65 million included by Congress in the recently approved comprehensive jobs bill for this purpose.
The money is being given to 560 health centers nationwide located in areas of high unemployment.
"We'll have money to pay for medicines that people can't keep up, and for at least 160 job physicals," said James Speight Jr., director of the East of the River clinic, who noted that many restaurants require job applicants to pay for a physical examination and chest X-ray.
The clinic plans to use the one-time grant to speed the opening of a pharmacy, as well as open a satellite clinic in Langston Terrace in Ward 5 and hire a doctor and a nurse for one year. Some of the money, $50,000, will be used to hire the jobless and train them as home health aides, Speight said. Another $75,000 will be given to Hadley Memorial Hospital's Family Health Services Center to care for the unemployed who live in Ward 8. Residents of Ward 7 and part of Ward 6 also will receive help.
The clinic is the only one in D.C. to get money from the jobs bill.
Twelve clinics in Virginia, mostly in rural coalfield counties of the southwest, will receive a total of $424,349, according to Ina Heyman, of the U.S. Public Health Service.
A dozen facilities in Maryland also will receive aid totaling $868,161, including seven clinics in Baltimore and five in rural Eastern Shore areas.
"This is very needed," said Dr. Harvey Webb, director of the Constant Care Medical Center in West Baltimore, which is receiving $168,187. The clinic plans to charge $2 a visit and little else.