Free Clinic: A Hope for Underprivileged People
“It’s free? Really? Thank you so much!” is a familiar line of conversation from many of the first time visitors who can’t quite believe there really is a clinic that offers healthcare services totally free of charge.
In Indonesia about half the population earns an average monthly income of USD 28 or Thai Baht 900, earning enough to put food on the table is tough enough but when the poor falls sick, the money required for medical treatment puts an even greater economic burden on their finance and compounds their everyday hardships.
For these individuals who live in densely populated housing, various health problems and illnesses such as influenza, dengue fever, diarrhea and cholera are prevalent due to the housing conditions, which lead to a high mortality rate among the most vulnerable, namely mothers and babies. Attempts by the Indonesian government to address and alleviate these conditions through improvements to public healthcare have been slowed because of the sheer scale of those impacted and budgetary constraints.
The PTTEP-Layanan Cuma-Cuma Free Health Care Service (PTTEP-LKC) was first opened on April 1, 2015 and is a way for PTTEP to give back to the people of the country. In short, it is a “Free Clinic” to provide the underprivileged local community with access to public healthcare.
The project is run in cooperation with Domphet Dhuafa (DD) a non-profit foundation with experience in working on public healthcare.
The Free Clinic is situated in Rorotan village in the North of Jakarta, in a low income area, which is densely populated about 17,000 people but at the same time has the fewest healthcare facilities when compared to other districts in the city.
The 500-square meter, two-storey building was designed to be a light and airy polyclinic providing outpatient care to the local community. The ground floor has an information counter, a registration office, an emergency ward, examination rooms and a pharmacy. The upper floor is an open multipurpose space for holding events and activities.
The first phase of the project focused on providing basic healthcare, pre-natal care, classes on mother and baby hygiene and dental care.
Since then the second phase has seen a further expansion with a 24/7 emergency unit with an ambulance on duty ready to respond at all hours. In 2017 there are plans for further expansion of a Tuberculosis (TB) unit, the cramped living conditions of local residents and the high humidity make for perfect breeding grounds that can cause TB to spread quickly.
PTTEP has set a 5-year target to treat a total of 100,000 patients every year.
Apart from providing the local population with access to public healthcare, the Free Clinic fulfills another important role in promoting knowledge of healthy living and illness prevention, so as to equip the local population with the knowledge to take care of their own health and training volunteers as a first line to go out into their communities to educate their families and neighbours on healthcare. Moreover, PTTEP employees also participate as volunteers and go out to visit remote communities to spread healthcare knowledge and awareness.
Doctors and medical staff who work in the clinic are all volunteers from the DD network. The clinic has doctors on duty for eight hours a day unlike many hospitals in Indonesia which do not have stand-by doctors. For patients who have more serious conditions the clinic provides a much needed and vital link to hospitals in the DD network and state hospitals where they can be referred for further consultation and treatment – as well as taking care of part of the medical bills.
The clinic has enhanced healthcare coverage for the local community but there remain many like the elderly or disabled who have difficulty in travelling to the clinic and so eight days a month the Free Clinic dispatches a mobile clinic to serve those people unable to travel to the clinic and those who live in remote areas.
Currently the clinic has 60-100 patients who come for consultations at the clinic every day and the accumulated number of patients during 2014-2016 was over 120,000; exceeding the initial target.
In 2017 the clinic serves 90,500 patients in total and PTTEP targets to serve more patients by 10% in 2018.
In a survey of patients who had used the Free Clinic over 70 percent responded that the facility was satisfactory and the remaining 30 percent thought it was excellent.
Even though the Free Clinic has received this positive feedback, the Free Clinic team continually listens to suggestions and feedback from the people who it serves in order to improve on the services provided. For instance, future expansion plans are being drawn up to include an Aids center, as this is another serious disease affecting the people in the area surrounding the clinic.
For all of these efforts in 2017 the Free Clinic was awarded a Platinum Award in the Best Community Program at the 9th Annual Global CSR Summit and Awards and the Global Good Governance Awards 2017, recognition that lifted the spirits of the Free Clinic team and encouraging them to redouble their energies on providing healthcare services to the community.
PTTEP hopes that the Free Clinic will become a sustainable model for healthcare services for other communities in Indonesia.