Students show support for Townhall II

Kelly Petryszyn

American Medical Students Association responds to possible closing of Townhall II

Members send letters requesting financial support to State Reps. Steven Dyer and Kathleen Chandler

In response to news of the possible closing of the Townhall II medical clinic, the American Medical Students Association signed and sealed letters requesting financial support to State Reps. Steven Dyer and Kathleen Chandler at a meeting last night.

Liz Schindler, president of the association, said she decided to write the letters because she wants “to make sure they know it is important to us.” Schindler also attended a casino night themed-fundraiser Townhall II hosted for the medical clinic at the Sheraton Suites in Cuyahoga Falls this weekend.

She said hopefully the letters will raise awareness within the government about the importance of Townhall II and its current need for financial support.

“They are such a pillar of the community,” Schindler said. “To lose that service would be a shame.”

About 460 Portage County adults, who do not qualify for Medicaid or Medicare, have no health insurance and are 200 percent under federal poverty guidelines, rely on the free medical clinic at Townhall II for health care.

This option, however, may not be available much longer. If it doesn’t raise $67,000 by June 30, the medical clinic at Townhall II will close. The clinic lost funding from two big donors, Robinson Memorial Hospital and Portage County Commissioner’s Office because of financial trouble clinic manager, clinic director Cathy Smathers said.

The clinic offers free medical services for general problems such as diabetes, hypertension and sinus and repository infections.

The budget issues don’t stop at the clinic. The entire Townhall II agency has an $113,000 deficit. In addition, Sue Whitehurst, executive director of Townhall II, expects to receive less government funding next year. The Townhall II medical clinic receives medication from pharmaceutical companies at no cost to the patient through a pharmaceutical program, clinic manager Cathy Smathers said in an e-mail. The clinic and the patient both have to fill an application and once it is approved the medication is mailed to the clinic.

Swati Chaparala, treasurer of the American Medical Students Association, said she is hoping the government-run health insurance reform will be passed. Until then, she said she feels disappointed at the thought of people going without health insurance if the clinic closes June 30.

“I don’t think health care is a privilege,” Chaparala said. “It is necessary.”

She said people need these services and medications. If the clinic closes down then the need will not be met. She wants this need to be apparent in the letters.

“I hope that the representatives we are writing a letter to understand that it needs to be funded,” she said. ? ?

Contact public affairs reporter Kelly Petryszyn at [email protected].