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Community Health Hero: People’s Health Clinic

This zero-cost health-care destination is helping the uninsured.

Courtesy Erik Seo Photography

People’s Health Clinic, Park City, Utah: Park City, Utah, is an outdoor sports and entertainment utopia. Some 600,000 people a year pass through to visit its world-class ski resorts, which hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics, or attend the Sundance Film Festival. For many of the 8,000 full-time residents, something is missing: Regular access to quality healthcare.

As with many communities that thrive on tourism, those working in hospitality comprise the city’s most vulnerable residents—they’re the housekeeping and resort staff that make Park City and Deer Valley ski resorts into winter paradises; they’re the landscapers and restaurant workers that help make the area’s streams sparkle with activity all summer. Access to preventative and maintenance healthcare was once unattainable for those working hard to ensure residents and tourists enjoy the best of Park City, until a few concerned citizens took action.

It was an unlikely trio: A Catholic priest, physician and a local businessman who held a health fair out of a rented van in a parking lot. The first event was 20 years ago and over 700 people showed up—it was then they knew something more must be done for the underinsured of their community.

Courtesy Erik Seo Photography

“Our local Catholic priest, Bob Bussen, noticed a lot of his parishioners had no access to healthcare,” said Dr. John Hanrahan. “We got a group together and set up a mobile van because we knew there was no way to reach the population that needed us by television or newspaper.”

The movement picked up steam and soon the three founded The People’s Health Clinic. The newly formed clinic collaborated with local healthcare group Intermountain Health Care to create a health clinic with only two requirements for treatment: you must be uninsured and live in Summit or Wasatch county.

Courtesy Erik Seo Photography

“We believe down to our core that everyone deserves quality healthcare, not just those who can afford it,” said Beth Armstrong, executive director of People’s Health Clinic.

Over the two decades, the clinic has existed, the number of services it provides has grown drastically.

“At the start, our patients couldn’t afford blood tests or medications, and now they have access to four-dollar prescriptions through Walmart, and we have grants to pay for lab work. I can now provide the same care at the clinic that I provide in my private practice,” said Dr. Hanrahan.

“We do almost everything. We provide chronic illness care to those with diabetes or high blood pressure. We offer prenatal and women’s healthcare, pediatric care, along with both vision and dental care. We see about 40 patients a day, and we take walk-ins, too,” said Armstrong.

Courtesy Erik Seo Photography

The clinic runs on less than a million dollars per year, made possible by grants and partnerships and 150 volunteer physicians.

“That’s how we’re able to do this, with our volunteer physicians, many are pediatricians,” Armstrong explained.

One of the few paid medical staff members is Rachelle Flinn, PA-C, the clinic’s clinical services director who has served in many capacities at the clinic.

“I started my time at People’s Health Clinic as a volunteer medical interpreter in 2012,” she said. “I transitioned to a part-time, then full-time employee. I took a hiatus to complete graduate school, and I returned as the Clinic Coordinator and Physician Assistant in 2017 and now I am the Clinical Services Director. People’s Health Clinic is a special place for me personally because its mission and success are a source of pride in our community.”

It’s often the most vulnerable in the community—children—who benefit the most from the clinic, particularly when it comes to their young teeth.

“We see a lot of children on our dental days, and most have never seen a dentist,” said Armstrong.

Courtesy Erik Seo Photography

There are 28 million people with no insurance in America, and the clinic has 9,800 patient encounters each year.

“I think every day, what would they do without us?” said Armstrong.

Yet, those who use the clinic’s services also give back as much as they can.

“About 80 percent of them make a donation when they have a visit- a dollar or 20, whatever they can afford,” said Armstrong.

Courtesy Erik Seo Photography

The clinic takes no federal funding out of a commitment to ensure they are able to serve all people. “Parents are fearful of applying for Medicaid, so they come to us. Almost all – 93 percent of them have at least one job, and most of them have two or three,” said Armstrong.

For his part, Dr. Hanrahan has long vacated his post as the clinic’s medical director, but he continues to give back as one of the volunteer physicians. After all, he and his patients are all part of one community, working hard to keep Park City humming and healthy, helping each other when needed.

“There has been incredible support from the community here. Our patients are the backbone of our resort community,” said Hanrahan.

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