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Help for underserved 

When the Affordable Care Act went into effect, Mission Medical Clinic was able to offer its low-income patients a new service: help signing up for Medicaid.

Executive director Barb Cronin says that was a good thing. Her tiny, faith-based nonprofit operates with about $356,000 a year, plus a lot of in-kind donations, around 300 volunteers and six staffers. They're committed to meeting the medical, dental and vision needs of their patients, but their resources are limited. Medicaid, she says, opens up all sorts of services to people.

But all those changes did come with a side effect. Mission is used to serving about 1,000 low-income, uninsured patients at 4,800 visits a year. When those patients got Medicaid, they moved on to regular doctors' offices.

"The people who had been coming in for several years, they are now on Medicaid so we have a lot more capacity," Cronin says.

The nonprofit is responding to the changing landscape by expanding its reach to undocumented people and the underinsured. Both, Cronin understands, need the help.

"Those [undocumented] folks really have nowhere to go for care, and also they are a private group of folks, so I think by coming here we're able to offer them services," she says.

The underinsured face a different challenge: High premiums and deductibles often mean there's no money to see a doctor. Pikes Peak area residents who live at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line can go to Mission for free care. Services include doctors' visits, management of diabetes and blood clots, eyeglasses and eye exams, dental work, behavioral health care, physical therapy and access to free prescriptions and medical hardware, like crutches.

Mission is able to provide so much because of donations of medical equipment, pharmaceuticals and other items. (Pharmaceuticals won't be available to undocumented people, because of restrictions by companies.) While it only has one nurse on staff, the clinic provides a wide range of care with the help of volunteer medical professionals.

The nonprofit was a part of the Independent's 2013 Give! campaign. With matching grants, the campaign raised $41,910 for Mission, which went to general operating funds.

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