Ascension Providence will hold a free health care clinic at the Waco Convention Center for the third time, hoping to attract more than 1,000 people Saturday.

The free clinic will offer medical, vision and dental care, along with mammograms and some laboratory services, from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Services will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis at the convention center, 100 Washington Ave.

“It all goes back to our mission,” Ascension Providence Case Management Director Katrina Linthicum said. “Our mission at Providence and all of Ascension is to care for those in need, but pay special attention to those who are poor and vulnerable. We have a large need in our community. We have a population that does not have health or dental or vision insurance, but we also have a population who may have that insurance but can’t afford to use it due to the high copays and deductibles.”

More than 400 Ascension Providence volunteers will make the free care possible, including physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, pharmacists and chaplains, among others. Almost 20 community agencies also will be on-site to offer additional resources, including CareNet, Mission Waco and The Salvation Army.

Linthicum said she hopes this one-day free clinic will provide some folks with relief and connect them with other resources, including primary care physicians and other health care needs.

“We know that just one day of services isn’t going to solve everything,” she said.

Children likely can leave the same day with new eyeglasses, although adults probably will have to wait because of more complicated prescriptions, Linthicum said. Dental care is one of the most popular attractions at these events, but the care generally is geared more toward people who need extractions or other special care, not simple cleanings.

Additionally, patients can receive flu shots and have prescriptions filled at the free clinic, Linthicum said.

Since 2016, Ascension Providence has held two free clinics, or Medical Missions, in Waco, serving more than 1,800 patients, Linthicum said. This year, the health care provider hopes to serve at least 1,000 patients.

The first medical mission in October 2016 served 987 people, with more than 250 dental exams provided and more than 250 prescriptions filled. The clinic in January 2018 served 817 people, with more than 350 medical exams provided and more than 200 vision screenings.

“The Community Health Needs Assessment for McLennan County shows there is an over-reliance of emergency rooms for health care, and many individuals in Waco who are uninsured or underinsured struggle to find access to affordable health care,” Ascension Providence Philip Patterson said in a press release. “Ascension Providence is honored to provide free health services as a direct response to this community need. Each of our Medical Missions is a visible demonstration of Ascension Providence living out our mission as a faith-based health care system.”

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Brooke Crum joined the Tribune-Herald as the education reporter in January 2019. She has worked for the Springfield News-Leader in Missouri, Abilene Reporter-News, Beaumont Enterprise and the Port Arthur News. Crum graduated from TCU in Fort Worth.

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