FLINT, Michigan — For 35 years, Hamilton Community Health Network has been an outpost in often medically-barren areas throughout Flint, and is looking to expand its reach to help more people in need of medical care.
Helping the less fortunate in Flint is something that goes so far back that Hamilton wasn’t even Hamilton yet. It began as a mission by four sisters from Kalamazoo sent by Bishop Michael J. Gallagher from the Diocese of Detroit to establish Saint Joseph Hospital in 1920. In 1981, Saint Joseph Hospital joined forces with Flint General Hospital, later named Family Hospital to continue serving a community in Flint that is often overlooked.
“This was the only hospital that African-Americans could receive primary care," explains Clarence Pierce, CEO of Hamilton Community Health Network.
After Family Hospital closed its doors in 1982, it left the low-income and minority populations of Flint with nowhere to turn for their primary care needs. With this critical need, Hamilton Family Health Center opened in 1982 and continued to build upon the legacy of making sure everyone in Flint, regardless of race or income, was afforded the healthcare they deserved.
Hamilton serves both the insured and uninsured. If a patient does not have health insurance, there are several options available, including a sliding fee scale that lowers the cost for services based on income. The network also provides enrollment services that assist anyone with insurance options.
With now eight locations throughout Genesee County — five in Flint — Hamilton aims to fill a void by adding another location on Flint’s Eastside.
After the water crisis began seven years ago in Flint, it brought with it crucial issues that not only affected Flint’s youth due to toxic levels of lead but also resulted in another area of the city being medically underserved.
“I worry every day about the effects of the water crisis on my children and grandchildren,” explained Holly Wilson of Flint. Having one of the highest lead content houses at 26 parts per billion with 15 being the max, the Wilson family was filled with lead and now they are all battling health complications and cognitive problems.
“I am thankful that I can go to Hamilton’s North Pointe clinic and get answers but there are many parents who don’t have straightforward access to affordable healthcare. If Hamilton opens a clinic on the east side of Flint, that will help so many families and kids,” said Wilson.
Hamilton is now beginning fundraising efforts to open a full-service clinic on the east side of Flint to support the healthcare crisis for over 13,000 people.
The fundraising campaign will kick off on Tuesday, November 30 at the main Hamilton clinic located at 2900 N. Saginaw St. from noon to 2 p.m. Though the event is by invite only due to the adherence of COVID-19 safety concerns, those who would like to support the fundraiser by donating to Hamilton’s GoFundMe campaign: Healthcare for Flint Kids: The Water Crisis Continues.
“Our children and families need healthcare that is easily accessible," says Pierce. "Many families on the east side of Flint must walk or take several buses to get to quality affordable healthcare. Some call it a 'healthcare desert.' We just know more healthcare is needed in this area."
Pierce expects the new clinic to have an immediate impact on the neighborhood as it becomes a medical home and resource to the area and fulfills wellness needs to improve the health of the community.
For the benefit of all who reside in Flint, those who can give, should," says Pierce. “When your community is well, your neighborhood thrives.”
For more information on Hamilton Community Health Network's fundraiser campaign, visit the GoFundMe page.