By now you probably know that the Venice Art Walk & Auctions is a benefit for Venice Family Clinic, but you might not know how much the Clinic means to its 24,000+ patients.
Lauren Peter, 29, is one of those patients. About eight years ago, in her first year of college, she was diagnosed with lupus. No one rejoices at learning they have lupus – it’s a debilitating disease with no cure – but the news wasn’t all bad to Lauren. She had struggled for years just to get a diagnosis, so she was consoled somewhat by knowing both what was wrong and that she was insured through her school’s health plan.
When she left school, though, she also left the school’s health plan and, because of her pre-existing conditions – she has periodic paralysis, too – she was repeatedly denied individual coverage. In addition, she was often on bed rest and couldn’t work full-time, so she worked as a contractor, never qualifying for an employer’s group health plan.
“We would put together as much money as we could so I could see specialists, but then I couldn’t afford routine medical care,” Lauren says. “One of my biggest fears was that, because I could only afford to treat my chronic diseases, I would get sick with something else.”
Then, in late 2009, she saw an episode of Countdown with Keith Olbermann and heard about free clinics. She did a little research, found Venice Family Clinic, and made a phone call.
Now she’s a regular patient. She leaves each appointment with a date and time for another, not too far in the future.
“I’m still uninsured, but not so scared,” Lauren says. “Routine visits are routine again.”