I’ve been a fan of the Country Doctor Community Clinic ever since I graduated college and no longer had coverage under the parental health insurance plan. Country Doctor has been there since 1971 to provide affordable quality medical care to those who need it whether they have health insurance/ a healthy paycheck or not, something for which I and many other uninsured Capitol Hill residents will be eternally grateful. Earlier this year I found out about one more service that Country Doctor provides: The Artist Clinic.
The Artist Clinic is a pilot program that began in January 2009. The project is a partnership between Country Doctor and the Washington Artists Health Insurance Project (WAHIP), which is itself a partnership between Leveraging Investments in Creativity and Artist Trust. Until June 2010, uninsured, low-income artists can send in an application to Artist Trust to qualify for a $75 voucher towards appointment costs at Country Doctor Community Clinic. Since the sliding scale cost for an appointment at Country Doctor can go as low as $15, $75 can go a long way. The Artist Clinic also hosts “artist-focused” clinic time at Country Doctor every Wednesday from 5:30-8:30pm, though artists can make appointments and use their artist health care vouchers anytime during Country Doctor’s hours of operation.
When I spoke to Miguel Guillen of Artist Trust, he emphasized the need for artists to participate in the program as soon as possible. “The biggest thing we are stressing right now is simply PLEASE use this service! Everything eventually points to metrics so if artists don’t use the service then we don’t have the numbers needed to present to potential funders and for creating new partnerships…We need more artists to take advantage of the program in order to ensure its continuation!”
The takeaway: If artists apply to get some free health care now, not only will they get that niggling problem checked, they’ll also be helping the community to work toward more more free artist health care later. While this is still a long way off from solving the rising rents/ disappearing arts community problem for the neighborhood, at least for now on Capitol Hill starving artists don’t have to be sick ones.