Doctors' Appreciation Day: Docs offer free care at Crystal Lake clinic

CRYSTAL LAKE – Suzanne Hoban said it takes a “special kind of doctor” to work at the Family Health Partnership Clinic.

In fact, it has 29 “special” doctors who volunteer their services at the Crystal Lake-based clinic, where the only common denominator in patients is they are uninsured.

“The volunteer physicians are tremendous because they really enable us to fulfill our mission and do the work that we want to do and the community supports us to do,” said Hoban, the clinic’s executive director.

Dr. Jim Mowery is the clinic’s medical director. He’s retired from practicing internal medicine at Centegra Health System. Now that he’s retired, he’s devoting more time to the clinic pro bono.

Mowery is not alone. There are a number of doctors who quietly do significant volunteer work in McHenry County from different practices and health systems. Many of them volunteer through Family Health Partnership Clinic. Monday is National Doctors’ Appreciation Day.

FHPC sees about 2,500 patients a year, in about 8,000 visits, and the clinic relies heavily on its doctors to provide care at little or no cost to the patient. The patients either have no access to health insurance or cannot afford it.

“I believe everybody has a right to affordable medical care,” Mowery said. “The fact that 40 million people can’t afford insurance is a travesty as far as I’m concerned.”

Some doctors appreciate the clinic where they can simply stick to the medicine, Hoban said.

“What draws people here is that they can really practice medicine with compassion,” she said. “They don’t have to wrestle with HMOs. They don’t have to wrestle with insurance companies – because no one has insurance here. It’s a very level playing field.”

Although there are a number of doctors who volunteer at the clinic, Mowery would like to see more, but he understands that family and professional pressures keep some from offering their time and skills.

Dr. Ann Dilla is a Centegra family doctor based in Spring Grove and volunteers at the clinic several hours a month.

“You make time if it’s important,” Dilla said. “Family Health Partnership Clinic is one of the best run clinics I’ve ever been in. … Because it’s so well run, you find time.”

Dr. Tom Meyer is a obstetrician and gynecologist with Advocate Health System, and practices in Barrington. He also volunteers several hours each month.

“I really believe in what they’re doing,” he said. “They’re really patient-oriented. … You feel good when you’re done there. You feel like you’ve done something.”

For Mowery, his religious faith acts as his primary driver for helping the uninsured.

“My faith not only requires me to believe, but to act,” he said. “It’s a no-brainer. You have a skill and what should you do with it? Give it to people who can’t afford it. Duh [laughs].”

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