Originally known as the Westport Free Health Clinic and later the Kansas City Free Health Clinic, the Kansas City CARE Clinic is a private, 501(c)(3) organization that was founded in 1971 by a group of concerned citizens from all walks of life in Kansas City.
At an early meeting the following principles were established, and continue to be a foundation for all Clinic work that continues today: We believe that health care is a human right, not a privilege based on income or anything else; that health care means caring about people, not just treating their diseases; that an emphasis on health education, preventive medicine, demystification and de-professionalism of medicine must underlie all interactions between staff and patients; that no hierarchical structures can exist among clinic staff or between staff and patients. We see the Free Clinic as a tool to build a new community.
A number of people who were involved with starting the Clinic and/or who were instrumental in keeping the Clinic open through the early years serve on a Founders Council that works closely with present day Clinic staff. Just as it was formed to do in 1971, the Clinic exists to promote health and wellness in our community by providing quality services, at no charge, to people without access to basic care.
As it was in 1971, a patient’s commitment to their own care is at the center of the Kansas City CARE Clinic’s success. Back then patients were asked to contribute $5 per visit, or to give what they could when a glass jar marked “Please Give” was set out on the table in the waiting room. The Clinic continues to survive (and thrive!) because of support from the community and our patients.