Mary Winters helps a child through their eye exam. [Courtesy of the Moab Free Health Clinic]

The Moab Free Health Clinic currently has 13 organizations signed up for its community referral system, and they’re hoping for more. The referral system facilitates patient handoffs to other organizations, so patients can have better access to a full spectrum of care when they walk in the health clinic’s doors.

“It’s very exciting because it’s going to connect all these social services nonprofits in Moab,” said Josh Bower, patient navigator at the clinic. Bower has been working in his role for about a month. The referral system eases communication between organizations, and also makes sure patients “don’t have to retell their story,” Bower said.

The referral system launched on Tuesday, Dec. 1. The organizations partnering within it include the Moab Valley Multicultural Center, Moab Solutions, Grand Area Mentoring, and Grand County Emergency Medical Services.

The partnerships are facilitated largely through the nationwide healthcare referral software Unite Us, which the clinic first got involved in through Kolby Williams, who worked as a community navigation coordinator for the clinic.

Bower’s position is basically “to save people money,” he said. He helps patients with prescription assistance, finding financial aid, and contacting other organizations and hospitals in the region.

The health clinic also recently partnered with the Grand County School District to offer a vision clinic, which saw 40 students. The vision clinic was also opened up to the public—over three days, the vision clinic saw 96 patients, both adults and children, who needed eye exams and prescription eyeglasses.

Glasses were provided by Hope Alliance, a nonprofit that provides free eye exams and eyeglasses, so patients could walk away from the clinic with glasses in hand—Doug Caylor, executive director at the Free Health Clinic, estimated the vision clinic saved each patient $500.

“It was super exciting because some of these folks have glasses that had been broken for three months, and they put on their new glasses and they’re like ‘wow,’” Bower said. “It’s that quality of life aspect.”

Future vision clinics will be sometime mid-February, Bower said.

The health clinic has also started providing dental care with their recent in-house dentist, but its dental services have a smaller capacity than other services—the dentist is only at the clinic for two days a month.

“The need is so big in Moab,” Caylor said. He’s hoping the health clinic can get a dentist in the clinic at least one day per week in the long run. They provide full service of basic dentistry, meaning while you won’t be able to have a root canal done, the clinic’s dentist can pull teeth, do restorative dentistry, and do dental hygiene.

“We’ve already given a couple patients artificial teeth,” Caylor said.

The health clinic is also going to start working with an endocrinologist, or diabetic specialist, in the new year to help younger patients, particularly students in Grand County Schools who are “falling through the cracks in their diabetes care,” Caylor said.

“We’re really working on honing the programs that we have, and looking for simple ways to expand,” he said.

The Free Health Clinic has already served 951 patients this year, for a total of 2110 visits—that’s 10% of the Grand County population. Caylor estimates by the end of the year, the clinic will have seen 1000 patients and provided over a million dollars in patient care.