Free healthcare clinic in Madison, "a lifesaver"

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The Alliant Energy Center's Exhibition Hall opened their doors this morning expecting as many as 1,000 people to come.

If you're asking why, the answer is free healthcare. To those who have an insurance card in their wallets, going to the doctor may seem like a necessary chore. But 65 percent of the people that came through the door for the National Association of Free & Charitable Clinic's (NAFCC) day hadn't been to the doctor in five years or more.

To some of them, today's visit was a lifesaver according to the Executive Director for the NAFCC, Nicole Lamoureux.

"It's just, it's a gift in a way," said Efrain Victoria.

Efrain Victoria is talking about the opportunity he got today.

"I have the opportunity to come in for free, and not spend that much money -- money that I don't have," said Victoria.

He is finally able to figure out what that side pain is.

"I found something on my body," Victoria said, holding his side. "It's bugging me."

There's 50 NAFCC clinics in Wisconsin, but they often have such long lines, people are turned away. Today's clinic is filling that gap.

"I had a man this morning tell me that he hasn't been to the doctor for 20 years because he does not have health insurance. He can't afford to buy health insurance, and he won't go to the emergency room because it's too expensive for him," said Lamoureux. "He told me that this event was a lifesaver for him."

Someone who understands where that man's at, is former Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame Nose Tackle, Gilbert Brown.

"I lost a person near and dear to my heart because they didn't go to the doctor," said Brown.

He spent the morning taking pictures with patients, and most importantly, thanking them for coming to the clinic. He understands it sometimes takes a push to get out the door.

"You might have saved somebody's life... People think you're walking around today, you feel fine, but the next day you could just get sick all of a sudden," said Brown.

It's a tough reality to swallow, but the clinic hopes their open door will save a life.

"The people we see here today , they say to me all the time, 'thank you for being here because I don't have to worry that I'm going to die,' and that's the reality" said Lamoureux.

Lamoureux says the clinic is for everyone.

Over 80 percent of the patients today, had someone in their household that is working.

A handful coming in had insurance, but premiums or medication are just too much to afford.

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