In the spring of 2017, Nadeem Siddiki came across a video online showing a free health clinic in Florida. Siddiki, a professional engineer and father of three, sent it to a group of friends and had an idea: “Let’s do it,” he told them. They each pitched in $1,000 and spent about 15 months jumping through all the legal hoops to form Hoosier Crescent Foundation (HCF), a nonprofit, free health clinic on the campus of Martin University.
Open for three hours every other Saturday, the clinic’s target is people without medical coverage. The clinic offers primary care, diagnosis and treatment of illnesses and disease screening. Patients can also access specialists for issues such as diabetes and chronic illnesses, and HCF can help pay for medication, according to Siddiki. Notably, the clinic does not offer maternity or pediatric care.
Siddiki and those who helped him form the foundation are Muslim, so when HCF was first looking for a clinic location, it contacted local mosques. When that didn’t work out, he met with Eugene White, president of Martin University, about housing the clinic at the school. White, who recently announced he will retire in March, said part of Martin’s last strategic plan was more community involvement, so this was a natural fit.
“There are so many people in Martindale-Brightwood and surrounding areas with very little or no health care,” White said, “so we knew the need was great.”
According to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, 38.2 percent of residents in the 46218 zip code lived below the poverty level in 2017, and 29 percent did not have health insurance. This is despite the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, subsidizing insurance for the poorest Americans. Still, insurance providers have backed out in Indiana, and data from the National Conference of State Legislatures show the average premium cost rising 5.1 percent in 2019 on the ACA market. Data from the 2017 National Health Interview Survey show 45 percent of uninsured non-elderly adults cite cost as the biggest reason they don’t have insurance.
“This health field is getting so complex and expensive,” Siddiki said. “Even for people with insurance, they have difficulty getting basic care because you still have to pay some from your pocket. … There are people who don’t get the care.”
Along with implementing electronic medical records soon, Siddiki said the clinic’s main short-term goal is to simply see more patients. Siddiki estimated the clinic sees an average of about six people every other Saturday, but he said capacity is about 20.
HCF’s mission — to provide free medical services to the uninsured — naturally leads the foundation to treat many minority patients, who are more likely than whites to live in poverty and not have health insurance. Free clinics like the one at Martin don’t fix these disparities, but it does help close the gap.
“We are very pleased with their effort, very proud of their generosity,” White said of HCF. “We continue to encourage people in the community to take advantage of the service.”
Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.
Some Free and Low-Cost Health Clinics
Barrington Health and Dental Center, indyhealthnet.org
• Where: 3401 E. Raymond St.
• Contact: 317-957-2100
Citizens Health Center, freeclinics.com
• Where: 1650 N. College Ave.
• Contact: 317-924-6351
Gennesaret Free Clinics, gennesaret.org
• Where: Seven locations, listed online
• Contact: 317-955-0217
Hoosier Crescent Foundation, hcfcorp.org
• Where: Andrew J. Brown building at Martin University, 2186 N. Sherman Drive
• Contact: 317-434-4055
Martindale-Brightwood Health Center, indyhealthnet.org
• Where: 2855 N. Keystone Ave., Suite 100
• Contact: 317-957-2300
Peoples Health Clinic, freeclinics.com
• Where: 2340 E. 10th St.
• Contact: 317-633-7364
Raphael Health Center, raphaelhc.org
• Where: 401 E. 34th St.
• Contact: 317-926-1507
Shalom Health Care Center, shalomhealthcenter.org
• Where: Two primary care and 31 school-based clinics, listed online
• Contact: 317-291-7422