Free CSUSB Health Fair, Dental and Mammograms
Dianne Anderson // —
A bad tooth can poison the blood. It can drive a grown man or woman to their knees.
Or, it can kill, which is probably why so many people travel far and wide to take advantage of free dental clinics for services that easily run hundreds of dollars for those without coverage.
On Sunday, June 11, the young and the old will flock to California State University, San Bernardino for free health services, including dental fillings and extractions, eye screenings and mammograms.
The event is open to the public, and organizers expect many of their own CSUSB students to come out strong for the free checkups.
“A lot of our students have no insurance or Medi-Cal [coverage], or may see significant obstacles accessing healthcare even if they do have insurance,” said Richelle Marracino, MD, Medical Chief of Staff at CSUSB Student Health Center.
Campus students are her primary focus, but she also feels there is a great need for free health clinics for the community as a whole, as so many people still lack adequate insurance coverage. In the past, the campus has brought Western Dental school out to provide student screenings. That event is always a huge hit, and broadly attended.
“It’s not on a regular basis for our students at the university, but when we have offered it, the students turn out in droves. They really need those services, so we’re hoping that they will recognize this opportunity,” she said.
In collaboration with Lestonnac Clinic in San Bernardino, the free health fair runs from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at Santos Manuel Student Union, located at 5500 University Parkway, San Bernardino.
Especially as many nonprofits face deep cuts under the Trump Administration, the impact on healthcare could drive more consumers to clinics like Lestonnac, a licensed 501c3 community clinic.
Edward Gerber, executive director
Lestonnac Free Clinic, uses a variety of approaches, such as local health fairs to draw the lowest income population into their clinics for low cost or free follow-up primary care services.
He said many people think young adults are covered because they can legally stay on their parent’s insurance until their 26 years, but too often, parents drop the kids when they turn 18 because it is too expensive.
Lestonnac specifically caters to the uninsured, and location is everything. By virtue of the need, this is one of their fastest growing satellite locations.
“San Bernardino is proving to be the right place to be. We see the huge need in San Bernardino. We started out two days a week, now we’re at three and we’re looking at having a fourth day,” Gerber said.
At the health fair, Lestonnac will provide a primary care visit and information on access to clinic services, located at 401 E. 21st Street, San Bernardino. There, patients can get help in endocrinology, Rheumatology, ultrasound, some vision care, and lumps and bumps surgeries. For more specialized care, patients are referred to their Orange County facility.
Since starting locally last year, they have expanded from two to eight doctors, and can accommodate 30 patients a day. Not long ago, he said they put up an eye-catching sign to help draw attention to the clinic that sits directly across the street from St. Bernardine Medical Center emergency room.
Now, more and more people are showing up, and it is becoming their primary care home.
“Even when we’re not there, people are coming trying to get help,” he said. “By being located there with that big giant sign, we are seeing people skipping the E.R. and coming over to the free clinic.”
Older patients are also at high risk, and not just for the undocumented population. Many seniors are over 55 years old, but not yet eligible for Medicare, or have been let go from full-time employment or benefits. He said the clinic helps a large number seniors 60 to 65 years, along with low-cost medications.
“Companies [are] pushing them out at age 60, they don’t get Medicare until 65, maybe they have retired, but they still need insurance, and still help,” he said. “We help bridge that gap.”
It’s also not unusual for the uninsured to wait until it’s almost too late to go to the doctor, and wind up in the emergency room because they don’t know where else to turn. He feels the clinic is in a prime location.
“We do health fairs, that’s one of the ways we get people into the clinic and let them know that we’re now their primary provider. They come back on a regular basis for follow-up,” he said.
Despite whatever moves by the Trump Administration, he said that states will have some latitude. Gov. Brown has expressed commitment to preserving access to healthcare, but there are bound to be changes coming down the line.
“We’ve thought about the fallout, in that we don’t know what it’s going to cost,” he said. “We can’t slow down our efforts, we need to brace ourselves for what could be coming.”
For more information, see www.lestonnacfreeclinic.org