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|Virtual clinic lacks budget, designation|
The Living Well Foundation will need the Northeast Louisiana Virtual Clinic's advisory board to first acquire 501(c) 3 status and come up with a budget before it can receive any funding from the foundation for operations.
The 501 (c) 3 designation by the Internal Revenue Service would set up the virtual clinic as a non-profit organization. The Living Well Foundation cannot appropriate any money to the virtual clinic until it becomes a non-profit organization.
Living Well Foundation attorney Doug Caldwell said the virtual clinic has applied for the 501(c) 3 status. He expects the board will have no problems in obtaining this status.
In the meantime, the foundation wants the virtual clinic's board of directors to begin working on a proposed budget to determine how much funding the virtual clinic would need to operate.
"We cannot write them a check until they are officially recognized as a 501(c) 3 organization," Caldwell said. "The next step would be getting a budget from them. We need some guidelines as far as what they are looking for a financial commitment."
Foundation member Susan Hoffmann was selected Wednesday as a liaison between the foundation and virtual clinic board. She will work with the virtual clinic board as it works to devise a budget.
The virtual clinic board is comprised of 13 members from the Ouachita Parish Medical Society and the Northeast Louisiana Dental Society. The two groups will be in charge of operations of the virtual clinic. There has been no timetable set as to when the virtual clinic would begin operations.
The virtual clinic is a project the Living Well Foundation wants implemented in the eight-parish region the foundation serves. It was modeled after a similar clinic in Baton Rouge.
The goal of the virtual clinic is to provide healthcare for people in the eight-parish region who are considered the "working uninsured."
The virtual clinic concept is a partnership with local doctors and dentists who are willing to give a certain number of appointments to help the working uninsured.
West Monroe Mayor Dave Norris, who serves as chairman of the Living Well Foundation, said the local medical community has shown excitement in providing this type of service for area residents.
"I've met with a few of their board members and they are really anxious to move forward as expeditiously as possible," Norris said.
Patients who are eligible to get medical assistance from Northeast Louisiana Medical Clinic can see a doctor and dentist for six months. After six months, patients have the option to renew a six-month contract with doctors. Dentists say they will only need six months to repair a patient's dental problems.
All medical assistance and dental work will be free.
Greater Baton Rouge Community Clinic was launched in 2000. It was one of the first virtual clinics in the country to pool regional physicians and dentists together to offer free medical treatment for the working uninsured. Today, it has more than 400 physicians and dentists involved in the program.
Through the Baton Rouge program, dentists and physicians commit to seeing a number of patients during a six-month period. Each medical professional determines how many patients they will see during a six-month period.