Kansas City program hopes loose change will make big change for those in medical need

Posted at 6:38 PM, Nov 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-09 19:38:35-05

Over the past several years, being able to see was quite the challenge for Luther Dawson.

“I don't know if people understand the obstacle or the difficulty of just trying to look at your cellphone to find the number to dial. It's challenging,” Dawson said. “I've probably purchased maybe 15 to 20 pairs of [glasses] only to find out that I really needed to have my eyes examined.”

Uninsured, Dawson said he couldn’t pay to get an eye exam. That’s when he called Kansas City Medicine Cabinet.

“Kansas City Medicine Cabinet provides medical care assistance to the people of the metropolitan area, short term,” Executive Director for the KC Medicine Cabinet Becky Schaid said.

"I went up there and spoke to a case manager and she referred me to an eye doctor, and I found out that I needed bifocals," Dawson said. "They fitted me for them, gave me the medicine, filled the prescription and told me that my glasses was ready and I've been able to see ever since."

Schaid said they work with 13 social service agencies with 24 sites across the metropolitan area, providing medical assistance for people who are uninsured or underinsured, meeting certain requirements.

“We go from Excelsior Springs to Belton, and we assist from eastern Jackson County to western Wyandotte and Johnson County,” Schaid said. “We're an income-based program, so we start with 200 percent of the poverty level. Then there's another series of things they would go through and eventually, we would give them a voucher and we would take care of providing the assistance that they needed."

Schaid said the program provides short-term emergency medical assistance.

“We're for people that have maybe lost their job or in-between jobs or getting on a program but suddenly finding out that they're a diabetic and need to get their insulin strips,” she said. “Eighty percent of the people that we see never come back and we're thrilled with that because we've met that need, and they're able to go on and we've been able to help them in that short time.”

Schaid said people that are part of the program can come back for three dates of service in a lifetime.

The program provides assistance in diabetic supplies, dental emergencies, medical equipment, prescriptions and vision care.

“No one should ever have to pick between food or prescriptions,” Schaid said. “Whether they pay their rent or get their eye glasses, and we want people to know that there's a program out there where people can get assistance."

From November 7 - 11, the KC Medicine Cabinet is holding its annual fundraiser called ‘Coins for the Cabinet.’

Several jars and boxes are placed at various local businesses and schools for people to drop off their loose change. They can also donate online.

“It helps us to raise awareness,” Schaid said. “One hundred percent of the money raised goes towards people and their services.”

Dawson said the program has been very beneficial.

“I honestly believe that little things like eyeglasses can be life altering, and I can't even speak of medications or anything of that nature, they're wonderful,” he said about the program.

The program started in 2005 and has provided more than 30,000 services to people and roughly $6 million for those services.

Schaid said it's a team effort among agencies throughout the area.

"This is for the people of Kansas City," she said. "We are a local charity providing services to help people in the metropolitan area, the people of Kansas City. But it's us, it's the agencies, it's the vendors. We all pull together to try and help our neighbors and the people of Kansas City not have to make those decisions."

For more information on the Kansas City Medicine Cabinet, click here.



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