Taste of the Town
Plenty of auction items available, and the event is for a good cause
Monday, March 03, 2014 6:00 PM
MENOMINEE - Need a break from the winter blahs? Try something different at the 12th annual Taste of the Town event Friday at Riverside Country Club.
Vanessa Smith, owner of Night Owl Bakery in Marinette, will be one of the businesses participating in the Taste of the Town event Friday at Riverside Country Club in Menominee.
Free clinic plays vital role in community
MARINETTE - It isn't easy to figure out how the Affordable Care Act is going to affect everyone in coming months and years. From families who will be able to purchase health insurance for the first time, to those who are forced to try and find the right plan at an acceptable cost, there are questions coming from everywhere about the repercussions - including health care providers.
That is the case with the Twin Counties Free Clinic, which has served the uninsured and underinsured residents in Marinette and Menominee counties since 1999.
Marilyn Lawson, clinic director, said her staff has been reaching out to its patients since the ACA was passed, and has tried to get them to sign up for insurance benefits that are available.
"We see about 200 patients each year," Lawson said, "and at least 20 of our patients are already signed up."
She said that some people who weren't previously eligible for Wisconsin's BadgerCare or Michigan Medicaid are now being accepted in some instances.
Others find insurance they can purchases, but without incentives, cannot afford the premiums or cover the high deductibles.
"We have been bombarding them (the patients) with information, so they could sit down with certified counselors and sign up," Lawson said.
The clinic, itself, does not help patients sign up for health insurance, and is anxiously waiting to see what the fallout will be from the ACA.
"This has been a help to some of our patients, but there is still going to be a number of people who qualify for insurance, but cannot afford the premiums," she said. Lawson used the example of a person working several part-time jobs, making about $900 a month, only to find out her premiums are $500 a month.
"People will still fall through the cracks," Lawson said of the new health care rules.
The confusion creates a problem for the free clinic, in that people are thinking there will no longer be a need for it to exist.
Lawson said that will not be the case.
"In general, people think the health care act will mean health care is available for everyone, so why should we donate to the free clinic?"
"Affordable Health Care doesn't mean affordable to everyone," said Cathy Raygo, the patient assistance program administrator at the clinic.
People who can afford health insurance, but don't want to pay for it, would not be eligible for services through the free clinic, Lawson said.
But those who are given a price that exceeds their ability to pay will still be helped, she said.
The method of determining eligibility will remain the same, she said. People will have to submit income and expense information, which will be reviewed.
Everyone must go through the registration process with the federal government, Lawson said. The clinic will not be able to take on patients who have not done that, so everyone has been contacted numerous times to inform them of the changes.
If after signing up, they are not eligible for state programs and must purchase insurance through the open market, the clinic will work with those people who cannot afford it.
"We will look at them individually," Lawson said.
The clinic runs on donations and contributions, and staffers work continuously to reduce costs - especially for prescription medication.
That's Raygo's primary job, Lawson said, and one that is of vital importance to the clinic and its patients.
Lawson looked at just four medications used by patients and crunched the numbers. "We will pay for the medications for the first month and then try to put them on a patient assistance plan (through the pharmaceutical companies)."
Lawson said that on those four medications alone, the clinic was able to save more than $27,000 in a year.
"And that's just four medications," she said Monday.
The Twin Counties Free Clinic still benefits from major contributions in services and space from Bay Area Medical Center and Aurora Health Care.
BAMC covers the cost for X-rays and lab work, while Aurora donates office space for the twice monthly clinics.
While the free clinic is open only two nights each month, some clinical visits can be handled at the clinic office in the financial building at BAMC, located off Cheri Boulevard. Both Lawson and Raygo are registered nurses. Overall, the clinic provided more than 750 clinic and office hours to patients in the past year.
People are asked to call the clinic office to make appointments for upcoming clinics or to start paperwork. The clinic office at 1301 Cheri Blvd. is open from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The telephone number is 715-732-1349.
The clinic is open two Tuesdays each month at the Aurora Marinette Menominee Clinic location at 3130 Shore Drive (second-floor of the BAMC Medical Office Building).
Whether it's hors d'oeurves or an entrée from a local restaurant, cupcakes or cakes from an area bakery or a new wine or distilled spirit from local wineries - the evening will offer the opportunity to taste, sample and enjoy.
Taste of the Town is an annual event to raise money for the Twin Counties Free Clinic, which provides services for the uninsured and underinsured residents of Marinette and Menominee counties. Even with the coming of the Affordable Care Act, there will still be a need for the free clinic, said director Marilyn Lawson.
Along with food and drink, those attending the event Friday can participate in individual bucket raffles, a silent auction and a "Wheel of Fun," where people can pay $20 to spin a prize wheel.
According to Trisha France, resource development coordinator, the bucket raffles will include theme baskets, such as a camping basket, a movie night and a dining out basket.
Some of the silent auction prizes include stays at vacation homes in Florida (three) and one in Hawaii; golf packages; a Door County weekend get-away; Milwaukee Brewers' tickets; Lloyd Flanders furniture; quilts; and gift certificates for dining and services.
Entry to the event, which starts at 6 p.m. at Riverside, costs $25 per person in advance and $30 per person at the door. People may purchase tickets at the Marinette Menominee Chamber of Commerce, both Angeli Foods location and at the Bay Area Medical Center Finance Building, where the Twin Counties Free Clinic office is located.
Area businesses participating in this year's event include:
- Angeli Foods - Crab cakes, Fontanini meatballs
- BAMC Dietary Department - Buffalo chicken dip, spinach artichoke dip
- Finishing Touches Wedding Cakes - Raspberry almond cake
- Forgotten Fire Winery - Assorted wines
- Night Owl Bakery - Lavender mini-cupcakes, mini-Napoleons
- Perkins - Chicken pot pie with a homemade crust, chocolate peanut butter muffins
- Riverside Country Club - Haystack onion rings
- Sassy Little Cupcake - Chocolate Irish cupcakes
- Schloegel's - Applewood salmon
- The Serving Spoon - Indian tacos
- Northwoods Distillery - Heath rum