By Norbert McCloskey, Executive Director, Ithaca Health Alliance

Jennifer arrived at the Ithaca Free Clinic during a Walk-in Clinic. She did not have health insurance, so she came to the Free Clinic for help. Light-headed and not feeling well, she was sure she had the flu. She signed in at the registration desk and took a seat. A few minutes, later a volunteer nurse stepped into the waiting room and called out Jennifer’s name. She followed the nurse to an exam room to have her vitals taken and to review her health history.

As she finished taking Jennifer’s blood pressure, a concerned look crossed the nurse’s face. Jennifer’s blood pressure read 200/120. After a quick consultation among the nurse, the volunteer medical provider, and the Clinic Coordinator, an ambulance was summoned. Jennifer was rushed to the local emergency room for the treatment needed to lower her blood pressure and stabilize her dangerous and life-threatening condition.

Jennifer received the help she needed in time to avoid a debilitating stroke or heart attack. Quick action by community volunteers at the Free Clinic may have saved Jennifer’s life that afternoon — she may very well be alive today because of the support you and other members of the GreenStar community have provided over the years to keep the doors of the Free Clinic open and free health-care services available to all uninsured members of our community. Your gift makes this happen. Your gift is important. You don’t need to be a doctor to save a life.

With the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid under constant attack, the Ithaca Free Clinic saw a rise in the number of new patients seeking medical services in 2017. Given the current political and economic environment, the need for Free Clinic services will continue to grow. To meet this need, the Ithaca Free Clinic and GreenStar are once again working in partnership to support the Free Clinic’s efforts to provide health care to individuals like Jennifer, services they can find nowhere else.

Our sixth annual “Give Thanks for Health Care” cash register fundraiser will begin on Nov. 1 and run the entire month of November. Receiving no state or federal funding, the Free Clinic relies heavily on contributions made by community members like you. Your gift will help ensure that a community-oriented, community-driven health care service is available for everyone with nowhere else to turn.

For those who are able, there are many ways to help us reach this year’s goal of raising $5,000. Tell your cashier you want to donate $1, $3, $5 or more to help the Free Clinic. Donate your extra change to round up your total. Write a check payable to the “Ithaca Health Alliance” to hand to your cashier. Or mail a check to PO Box 362, Ithaca, NY 14851. Visit our website to make an online donation. Throughout the month, Free Clinic volunteers will be tabling at the front entrance to the store. Stop by, pick up some Free Clinic literature, and drop a dollar in the collection box. All donations are tax-deductible.

Today, Jennifer is alive and has medical insurance and the care she needs to better self-manage her hypertension. Without the support of community members like you, this might not have been the case. Your continued support will help ensure that the doors of the Ithaca Free Clinic will be open for the next “Jennifer” who arrives seeking care. Your gift matters. You don’t need to be a doctor to save a life.

Founded in 2006, the mission of the Ithaca Free Clinic is to facilitate access to health care for all, with a focus on the needs of the uninsured and under-insured. For more information about how you can support the Ithaca Free Clinic, please contact Norbert McCloskey at 607-882-9060 or For more information on services provided, visit The Ithaca Free Clinic is located at 521 West Seneca Street, right around the corner from the West End location of the GreenStar Co-op.