Rising healthcare costs sends hundreds to free mobile clinic

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Guam – A long-standing issue in many communities, including Guam’s, are the continuously rising costs of healthcare, an essential, yet for many an unaffordable service. The reality of which has sent families from various villages throughout the island to Tamuning in droves, in order to avail one’s self of pricey immunizations and/or physicals, with the FREE services made available through a mobile clinic.

As parents get their children ready for the upcoming school year, ensuring that the necessary tests are completed before it’s start leaves many with limited options, especially for those without health insurance. On average the required physical costs $99, the requisite TB shot for new or transferring students $35. A steep price for thousands of families island-wide.

The continuous climb of healthcare costs that not many can afford, forces island residents to flock to Tamuning, near the old Blockbuster to take advantage of the free immunizations, physicals and TB tests made available through a back-to-school medical outreach program this past weekend. Regardless of the inabilities of mobile medical clinic volunteers to guarantee the free services to all present, parents with their children in tow, wait in line for hours on Sunday all in hopes of being able to register for the free services.

Senator Dennis Rodriguez, the founder of this mobile clinic back in 2016, in partnership with various community volunteers states “It’s really something I saw that was a real need when we look at the problems we’re facing at the hospital or just health care. Sometime we are so focused on just the hospital just figuring out what to do there, but not looking at the root of the problem. And this is the root of the problem, is that people don’t have access to prevention and primary care. This is really where the focus should be.”

An undeniable and highly beneficial aid to thousands in the community, the risk of waiting in line for hours and potentially not getting seen at all became the unavoidable reality for many this past Sunday. Despite the announcement flyers reading “1:00pm to 3:00pm” families arrived as early as 8:00am to secure their spots in the registration list; a list that was quick to fill, as free services were on a first-come-first-serve basis. However, all who were still in line to register just before 12:00pm had to be turned away, primarily due to cap. By then, a mobile clinic volunteer made the announcement “Alright ladies and gentlemen, can I have your attention, especially for those who are in line at this point, we have met our cap for immunizations at this point. We will not be issuing out anymore numbers for immunizations, we’ve already met the cap for all segments from immunizations, to physicals to TB skin tests for today’s clinic.”

What then makes it worth driving to Tamuning from villages as far as the north and south, standing in line for hours awaiting the chance you may or may not get to register and then waiting even longer to receive the free services? The constant rise of healthcare and adequate health insurance costs that plague the community.