MASON CITY, Iowa - Since November 2009, the Cerro Gordo County Free Health Care Clinic has provided health services like wellness screenings, diagnosis and treatement for high blood pressure and asthma, and even treatment for a sore throat or an ear infection among other services for county residents who were uninsured or underinsured.
Over the years, however, time and availability changed, and fewer patients were coming in. On Friday morning, after faithfully serving their mission well since the beginning, the non-profit organization announced that it has closed its doors. Any remaining patients are getting help through the recently opened Community Health Center in Mason City.
Since opening in October, the center has seen thousands of patients who need medical attention, but may not be able to afford that care.
Karen Bull is getting some dental work done at the center, and appreciates them filling a hole in local treatment.
"They've needed it for quite some time. There's so many people around here that go without medical care or dental care because they can't afford a dentist. And they do the sliding scale here, so that's helpful for people without insurance."
And it's also easing the burden some hospitals may face.
"I know of a lot of people that were going to ER because they didn't have insurance and they couldn't afford to go to a regular doctor, and so they come here now."
Renae Kruckenberg is the CEO of the Community Health Center.
"We're open everyday Monday-Friday, 8-5, and they can come in and if they have a sore throat in the morning, they can call and get in the same day. They don't have to wait until that Saturday comes."
Now Kruckenberg wants to expand on the services the clinic provided.
"They looked at the need of the community and they met that need and did a wonderful job with it, but it was on a limited basis. Whereas now, we'll be able to continue the wonderful services that they were offering and starting and being able to expand them on a regular basis."
In addition to expanding their dental services, the center is offering new types of therapy.
"We offer parent child interaction therapy now. Two of our therapists have received training for parent child interaction therapy. And also another type of therapy called EMDR [eye movement desensitation and reprocessing therapy]."