Removing barriers to care | Access to community-based care
Mark Brault of Richland, Wash. spent his career in accounting and management before retirement in 2015. Today, he’s finding a different fulfillment in a volunteer career at the Grace Clinic, an independent free clinic serving the Tri-Cities area.
“My wife, Kathryn, is a provider at the clinic, and she recruited me onto the board of directors 16 years ago,” says Mark, who became the clinic’s volunteer CEO in 2012. “When I joined the board, I thought I could help, and there was interest in having a CPA member. Through my involvement, I developed a deep commitment to the work and mission of the clinic.
“A key part was that, while we have ongoing medical needs within our family, there was never a time when we didn’t have good coverage and an ability to take care of whatever our portion of the cost was,” Mark continues. “That is not the case for a great many people. The fulfillment I get is from helping to meet the needs of people in our community who are not as fortunate as my family.”
“The fulfillment I get is from helping to meet the needs of people in our community who are not as fortunate as my family.” - Mark Brault, volunteer CEO, Grace Clinic
The clinic, which started seeing patients four hours every Saturday in a church basement, now sees patients five days a week in its own space. The clinic is an important and much-needed resource in the Tri-Cities region of eastern Washington, providing free medical, dental and mental health services to those who are uninsured. Patient visits usually exceed 7,000 each year.
The clinic does have a paid administrative support team, but it relies on volunteers from the medical, dental and mental health professions to care for patients.
Kadlec is a longtime major supporter of the Grace Clinic, through community benefit funding as well as volunteer involvement by caregivers.
“Kadlec has been a partner since Grace opened in 2002,” Mark says. “They’re a financial supporter, they provide charity care access to our patients that we refer to them, they supply equipment, and a number of their employees volunteer their time with us.”
Grace Clinic opened in 2002 and sees about 7,000 patients each year. Kadlec provides the clinic with community benefit support and encourages volunteerism by caregivers who want to serve there. Kadlec also provides financial assistance to Grace clinics patients referred for additional care.
One of Kadlec’s most recent contributions is a treadmill with an EKG machine, for cardiac stress tests. Iyad Jamali, M.D., a Kadlec cardiologist who volunteers at Grace, facilitated the donation and soon after saw a Grace patient whose heart wasn’t working right.
“Her stress test was abnormal, so I referred her to Kadlec where I did an angiogram and found that one of her arteries was 80% blocked,” Dr. Jamali says. “She has a stent now and is doing well, and I see her in follow-up at Grace. Our ability to do stress tests there has enhanced our services quite a bit.”
Dr. Jamali finds volunteering at Grace to be rewarding, both personally and philosophically. “I think volunteering in general is a sign of a healthy, stable community. And by volunteering at Grace, I see patients that I might not necessarily be able to see in my clinic. There’s a lot of satisfaction in helping people, especially the vulnerable.”
“I think volunteering in general is a sign of a healthy, stable community. There’s a lot of satisfaction in helping people, especially the vulnerable.” - Iyad Jamali, M.D., Kadlec cardiologist and Grace Clinic volunteer
Without Kadlec’s support, Mark says things would be more difficult for Grace.
“We would have to come up with the funding elsewhere,” he says. “And there are limitations to what we can do in our setting. Some of our patients have needs we can’t meet, needs that must be met at a hospital. Historically, we’ve had the easiest time helping patients access financial assistance at Kadlec. Without their participation, the access to these vital resources would be greatly diminished, if it existed at all in the Tri-Cities.”
In 2021, Kadlec provided financial assistance to 7,125 patients in need.