CEDAR RAPIDS — Laughter is good for the soul. But for His Hands Free Clinic, it’s good for the patients, too.
The Cedar Rapids-based free health clinic is hosting Laughter is the Best Medicine, its fifth-annual fall fundraiser to raise money for clinic operations, early next month.
Proceeds of the event, which will feature Davenport-based improv comedy group Guys in Ties, will go toward purchasing medicine and medical supplies and will help cover costs to employ a nursing staff.
“The clinic has a culture that we want people to experience joy,” Executive Director Dawn Brouwers said. “As a community, sometimes we can be very serious. We just think it’s important to remind folks that laughter is good for us.
“Not only is it fun, but it’s really is good for us health-wise.”
The fundraiser is set for Monday, Oct. 7, at the Cedar Rapids Marriott, 1200 Collins Rd. NE. Dinner and a silent auction begin at 5 p.m., followed by a performance by Guys in Ties at 7 p.m.
The clinic, 400 12th St. SE, provides free medical, dental and mental health care to uninsured and underinsured individuals.
The clinic had 1,355 unique patients and about 4,000 clinic visits in 2018. In 2017, the clinic saw about 1,200 patients and around 3,500 visits.
“Each year since 2014, we’ve seen our actual patient population increase by 10 percent,” Brouwers said.
Brouwers estimated medical supplies will cost the clinic about $3,000 from its budget for this year. In the past, the clinic has been aided by donations, and the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation has helped with nearly 50 percent of the actual cost of medication, she added.
In addition to overall growth, the clinic also has seen an increased need among patients with diabetes — its diabetes population increased about 68 percent from 2018 to 2019, prompting officials to launch a program to address those needs.
“It is a growing issue for our population,” Brouwers said. “In Linn County, the numbers of individuals with diabetes is going down ... but with the population we’re working with — low-income individuals without insurance — it continues to be a disparity.”
Seventy-five patients are enrolled in the diabetes education program, which includes a four-week class and regular checkups with the clinic’s diabetes educator.
Of those participants, 57 percent have seen their hemoglobin A1c drop below 7 percent — a positive result for those managing diabetes. An A1c test measures a patient’s average blood sugar level.
The Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation, along with CVS and Direct Relief, provide funding for the pilot program for diabetes.
Brouwers said officials hope the upcoming fundraiser will allow the clinic to open the program to about 100 total participants.
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Registration for this event is limited. Those wishing to attend the fundraiser can find more information on His Hands Free Clinic website, hishandsfreeclinic.org.
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