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Q: What are the St. Mary’s Health Clinics?
A: Established in 1992 by the St. Paul Province of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, the St. Mary’s Health Clinics are small, neighborhood clinics that provide free health care to low income, uninsured people living in the Twin Cities metro area.

Q: How many St. Mary’s Health Clinics are there in the Twin Cities Metro area?
A: There are currently 7 clinic sites with 13 clinic sessions each week.  Some of the clinics operate one afternoon per week while others operate two or three.  We now also have morning hours at two sites.  There are clinic sites in St. Paul, Minneapolis, and the surrounding suburbs.

Q:  How much does it cost to be seen at St. Mary's Health Clinics?
A:  If you fall within the Clinic's eligibility guidelines there is no cost -- all services are free

Q: What kind of health related issues do the Clinics take care of?
A: While the clinics see their share of sore throats, rashes and coughs, they also provide a wide range of health care services  —  going beyond the band-aid and cough syrup image of many free clinics.  With the help of area specialty physicians, health care providers, and pharmacists, the Clinics are able to assist people with a wide range of diagnoses and treatments.  In addition to sore throats, coughs, colds, flu, rashes, aches and pains, the Clinics, along with their specialty partners, provide physicals, mamograms, diabetes screening, treatment, and education, x-rays, blood tests, laboratory tests, diagnoses and treatment for hypertension, stomach problems, gynecological problems, urinary tract infections, etc.  They also help people manage diabetes and other health issues by providing most medications needed to control or cure a health problem.

Q: Is there anything that the Clinics do not take care of?
A: Yes.  Because the clinics are designed to be transitional and are concerned about the quality and continuity of care delivered, they do not see patients for pre-natal, mental health, dental, emergency, and/or complicated chronic diagnoses.  The Clinics also do not provide birth control.  Persons who are not eligible for the Clinics are referred to other area clinics or services that can provide this type of care at a reduced or sliding fee basis.  In addition, the Clinics do not provide most immunizations.  These are available through county extension programs for free or at low cost.

Q: Do I need to make an appointment to be seen?
A:  Yes. 

Q:  How do I make an appointment?
Call (651) 287-7777 Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. to see if you are eligible and to make an appointment.   Eligibility is generally done over the phone and takes about 10-15 minutes.  Se habla espanol.

Q: How is eligibility determined?  Who qualifies for the Clinics?
A: There are a few basic requirements.  One is no health insurance, which includes but is not limited to such government programs as Medicare, Medicaid, Medical Assistance, etc.  There is also an income limit which is designed to identify those who would either be able to afford private insurance or would qualify for government programs such as MNsure, MinnesotaCare or Medical Assistance.  Income guidelines are determined using a number of factors such as family size, etc.   A person must also be a resident of the seven county metropolitan area (or a Minnesota county whose borders touch the seven county area). The goal of St. Mary’s Health Clinics is to catch and care for those who are falling through the cracks because they do not qualify for government health care assistance but are still not able to obtain insurance on their own or through their employer.  There are other requirements as well.  To determine eligibility call (651) 287-7777 and speak with one of our intake and scheduling coordinators.

Q: I just got a new job, but my insurance doesn’t start for three months.  Will the Clinics see me?
A:  Yes -- provided you fall within the Clinics’ eligibility guidelines.  The St. Mary’s Health Clinics take care of a lot of people who are waiting for their insurance to “kick in” or for approval on their application for government programs such as MNsure, MinnesotaCare, Medical Assistance, etc.  

Q: How many people volunteer at the Clinics?
A: At last count there were nearly 300 active clinic volunteers — doctors, nurses, admissions people, interpreters, drivers, and miscellaneous helpers.  Last fiscal year (7/1/12-6/30/13) they put in over 15,000 volunteer hours.

Q: How many patients are seen at the Clinics?
A: Last fiscal year (7/1/13-6/30/14) the Clinics recorded 5,168 patient visits.  That is an average of  7.9 patients per clinic session. On average, each patient was seen twice over the course of the year.

Q: Is this more or less than in years past?
A:  It is average. The last ten years the average number of patient visits has been just over 5,000 per year.  Since the clinics were opened in 1992 over 97,000 patient visits have been recorded.  Of course, in the beginning with only one or two clinics the numbers were low — 340 patient visits the first fiscal year, which was really only a half year, as the clinic opened in January.  That soon changed as more clinics were added allowing for more people to be seen.  We, again, anticipate over 5,000 patient visits this current fiscal year.

Q: Do the Clinics see more men or women?
A: Women. (Or at least those designated as female, which includes all ages). Nearly 2/3 of all patients are female.  This has held true since the clinics opened in 1992.  Recent statistics, however, show the percentage of males edging up slightly.

Q: Do the Clinics see children?
A: Yes! About 5% of all patients seen during fiscal year 2014 (7/1/13-6/30/14) were under the age of 18.

Q: Are the people seen in the Clinics employed?
A:  Some are, some aren’t. This last fiscal year (7/1/13-6/30/14) over 38% of patients were unemployed.  24% were employed full-time but either were not offered or could not afford employer offered insurance benefits. 32% of patients seen were employed part-time, just over 4% were self-employed, and the remainder were students.

Q: Do the Clinics see a lot of minorities or immigrants?
A: Yes.  During the last fiscal year the majority of patients seen a the Clinics were Hispanic (nearly 63%).  24% were Caucasian, 8% were African or African-American and a small percentage of patients seen were Asian, Native American or multi-racial.  Currently nearly 60% of Clinic patients do not speak English.  This is a significant change from our beginnings when 42% of patients were Caucasian, 47% were African or African-American, and the remainder were a mix of Asian, Hispanic and Native Americans.  This statistic reflects a continuing and fluid demographic change in our patient population, as well as the population of the Twin Cities, in general.  

Q:  How do the Clinics pay for services provided?
A:  The saying is true that there is no such thing as a free lunch.  Free for the patient doesn’t mean care costs nothing or that no one has to pay.  However, the St. Mary’s Health Clinics are able to get a LOT of bang for their buck by working with area health care providers, specialty physicians, and pharmacies, who provide services or product free or at a discount. The Clinics also save money by utilizing the volunteer services of physicians, nurses, interpreters, admissions personnel and drivers at each clinic site. The clinic site itself is provided at no charge by the host (the churches, schools, etc.).  Utilizing sample medications and keeping a watchful eye on prescribed medications are another way the Clinics save money while providing quality patient care.

The patient services costs that are not discounted and other things like staff salaries, office supplies, central office rent, etc. are paid for through the generosity of many individuals, groups and foundations.  The Associates of St. Mary’s Clinics gift the Clinics with a check each year — proceeds  from their membership dues and fundraising projects.  The CSJ Ministries Foundation writes grants to government agencies, other foundations, and individuals for the support of the St. Mary’s Health Clinics.  Other groups (church and civic) and individuals who support the mission of the Clinics also donate funds ranging from pocket change to thousands of dollars each year to the Clinics.  The more money received by the St. Mary’s Health Clinics the more people they can help.

Q:  What percentage of funding received by St. Mary's Health Clinics goes to patient care?
A:  During FY14 (7/1/13--6/30/14) 88% of funding went to direct patient care.