Non-profit organization serving uninsured residents of Mecklenburg County

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Care Ring primarily serves minority and low-income populations, those who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 when health care needs could not be ignored.

CHARLOTTE, NC — The Biden administration is asking Congress for $22.5 billion in immediate emergency funding to continue the fight against COVID-19. The money would be used to buy vaccines, tests and treatments and it would fill the uninsured fund, which is expected to run out this week.

This will leave nearly 30 million Americans without access to needed and affordable COVID-19 care.

In the Charlotte area, there are organizations working to help fill these gaps. Care Ring NC is a nonprofit organization that provides medical care to uninsured and underinsured people in Mecklenburg County. Executive Director Tchernavia Montgomery says at least 16% of the county’s population is uninsured.

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Typically, these people are already vulnerable and lack of access to quality health care can be a matter of life and death.

Many take a simple check-up with a doctor for granted.

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“It gives me peace of mind knowing that I have a place to go that is going to take care of my medical needs and that I can afford,” Kenia Martinez said. She has no insurance.

Through an interpreter, she told WCNC Charlotte that she didn’t know where she would go for medical care without Care Ring in Uptown.

“Especially in our community, I hear someone say I have this pain, I have this, I have that, but I don’t know where to go because I don’t have insurance,” said Martinez said.

Care Ring serves approximately 7,600 residents of Mecklenburg County each year. Their patients are primarily from minority and low-income populations, those who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 — a time when health care could not be put off.

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“We haven’t closed because of COVID since the pandemic started because we understand that if we close, there are people in the community who wouldn’t receive care,” Montgomery said.

This type of resource becomes even more important as the federal government runs out of money to help uninsured people access COVID-19 care.

“We believe health care is a right, not just a privilege,” Montgomery said.

Care Ring works closely with Atrium and Novant Health and the Mecklenburg County Health Department.

They have also played a crucial role in reducing vaccine hesitancy among minority populations.

Contact Chloe Leshner at [email protected] and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and instagram.

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