WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Local heath care clinics are seeing more patients as people lose their jobs and health insurance. The numbers are so high some have stopped taking new patients and are trying to find ways to keep up with the demand.
"We're struggling because the mission of this place is to keep going and keep serving more and more as the need exists," said David Howard, executive director of the Tileston Health Clinic.
Just a few years ago, the clinic only saw about 1,500 every year. Now they're seeing about 5,000 people a year, which is a demand that's about too heavy for them to service.
"Most practices reach a max of patient load," said Howard. "They have to say, 'well, we're not accepting new patients,' and we have to do the same."
Donations and about 200 volunteers keep the clinic alive. They will only be able to accept new patients if they get some more resources.
Clinics like the Tileston Health Clinic are for people who earn too much for medicaid, but too little to afford health insurance.
Patient Thomas Simpson says many people rely on the clinics because that is the only place they can turn for help. He believes people who are turned away could turn to crime to get health care.
"If I break a window and get arrested, someone in the jail house is going to help me," said Simpson.
Copyright 2009 WECT. All rights reserved.