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      Free Clinic helping NEMO uninsured

      The Hannibal Free Clinic celebrated providing more than one million dollars in charitable care to uninsured citizens in Northeast Missouri last year.

      The Hannibal Free Clinic opened back in 2007 inside Douglass Community Services.

      The goal is to provide basic, free healthcare to the uninsured population in Northeast Missouri.

      All the care is provided by volunteer physicians, nurses and support staff and funded by donations.

      Melissa talked with one local man who says the clinic saved his life.

      Shelbina resident Diane Culp was concerned when her husband of 34 years Howard complained constantly of heart burn. That's when they found help at the Hannibal Free Clinic.

      Diane Culp said, "I knew you couldn't have it that often. Dr. Long came in and said that wasn't normal."

      "They knew instantly what was wrong."

      Volunteer Physician Dr. Pricilla Long and Free Clinic Coordinator Sharon Webster instantly sent Howard to a Hannibal cardiologist. From there he was transported to Columbia, where he went under the knife for a 5 way bypass. Later that week Mr. Culp underwent a 5-way bypass.

      Howard said, "They said by December I wouldn't have been here."

      Thanks to the quick thinking of staff and Dr. Pricilla Long, Howard enjoyed another Christmas with his family. But the Culps know it may have ended much differently.

      Diane culp siad, "If it wasn't for the free clinic, he would not be here, so you can imagine how glad I am. We've been married for 34 years and I am hoping for another 34."

      Howard is one of the growing number of people seeking care at the Hannibal Free clinic. Many are working adults with no access and no ability to pay for health insurance. But a growing number of patients are victims of the current economy. Last year the Hannibal Free CLinic saw more than 3 times the number of new patients applying for help after company layoffs and plant closures.

      Sharon Webster of the Hannibal Free Clinic said, "We are a lifeline to the community. And as the economy changes, there are more people that are needing our services as than in the past."

      The Hannibal Free Clinic accepts patients through an application process by appointment only.

      More than 300 people got care from the free clinic last year.