All day Monday, volunteers worked at the Morial Convention Center to set-up what will become the largest doctors’ office in the nation, according to the group The National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics.
The group organizes free health care events around the country. It has never visited a city twice except for New Orleans. On Wednesday, the group will open its clinic at the convention center for the fourth time.
“I’ll tell you, I think it’s because New Orleans holds a special place in the hearts of everyone in America. And the need is amazing here,” said Nicole Lamoureux, the Executive Director of the National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics. “23% of the people in New Orleans have no access to health insurance.”
More than 800 volunteers, including at least 150 doctors and nurses, process the patients. During previous events in the city, the group has helped more than 1,200 people who may have no other access to a doctor.
Patients can receive screening or treatment for just about any medical condition. The group also provides patients with information on local programs that could allow them to continue their care.
“But probably the most exciting thing we’re able to offer this year is three months of free prescription medications,” Lamoureux said.
Among the volunteers is jim Conklin and his wife. They traveled from Colorado to help with the event. The Conklins first came to New Orleans in 2006, after Hurricane Katrina, to help with home construction. Now they help calm nervous patients who arrive for the free medical care and steer them through the process.
“I shake every human being’s hand when they walk through the door. I greet them,” Jim Conklin said as he took a break from helping with the set-up work. “To say hello, welcome, everything is cool. You’re going to see a doctor today.”
This year’s event will be one day only, Wednesday, July 3, at Hall J at the Morial Convention Center. Parking will be free. Patients will be seen from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. People can simply walk up and wait or make an appointment to speed up the process.
Appointments can be made by calling 1-800-340-1301.