The Need Mecklenburg County has a population of more than one million people and vast financial, educational and cultural assets. It also has a strong network of health care resources. Nonetheless, the county faces substantial challenges when it comes to providing health care for thousands of low-income individuals without access to employer based health care or to a public insurance program.
The Solution Physicians Reach Out (PRO) is a non-profit program that provides medical and dental care to low-income, uninsured residents in Mecklenburg County. It does this by coordinating a network of doctors and dentists who volunteer to treat patients in their own offices.
PRO is one of three programs run by Care Ring, the oldest privately funded health and wellness agency in North Carolina. Care Ring also manages a low-cost clinic, which serves roughly 3,000 people a year, and Nurse-Family Partnership, which has a team of nurses that provide home-based care. Care Ring is based in downtown Charlotte at the Children and Family Services Center with ample parking and conveniently located near the bus line.
Care Ring Executive Director Don Jonas notes that PRO was modeled after a program that originated in Asheville and was developed by the Mecklenburg Medical Society. “It is important to recognize real genius and that there is a history of innovation that occurred before our time,” he said. “The people here—at Care Ring—figured out the machinery of how to make this work. It sounds simple, but it is an extraordinarily complex effort.”