The Health Care Safety Net

County’s Employers Depend on Trinity Free Clinic for Their Workers

By Mike Corbett

As Hamilton County’s population continues to grow and the cost of living here continues to rise, there’s a growing concern about housing for the workforce. How do we accommodate wage earners who need half their income or more just to pay for a place to live?

Less talked about, but just as pressing, is their need for health care. The high cost of health insurance puts it out of reach for lower paid workers, so health care is often not available through their employers.

Increasingly, employers and their workers are relying on the Trinity Free Clinic in Carmel. Founded 18 years ago, the clinic bills itself as Hamilton County’s medical and dental safety net. It provides primary health care for qualifying Hamilton County residents free of charge. Last year, it served more than 3600 low income residents, a 59% increase in just two years.

Servant’s Heart

The clinic is run by nine paid professional staff and an army of 377 volunteer health care providers with a variety of backgrounds…everything from dental students to retirees, with both medical and non-medical skills. “One thing that all of our volunteers have in common is a servant’s heart,” says Executive Director Dina Ferchmin. “They come to work at Trinity in the evening after they have put in a hard day of work, or they will sacrifice their Saturday to care for our patients. I am most impressed by their dedication and love to those they serve.”

In order to qualify for services, workers must live in Hamilton County and meet specific income guidelines. The average patient comes from a family four and earns about $24,000 a year.

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The Future of Asherwood

What do you do with a $30 million gift? Carmel’s American Songbook Foundation has that enviable task as it assesses the best use for Asherwood, a 107-acre estate with a fully furnished mansion, guest house, clubhouse, two golf courses and several additional structures. It is the former home of the late businessman Mel Simon and his wife, Bren, who gave it to the foundation in January.

Since then, a committee has been meeting to figure out how the property can best serve the mission of the foundation, says President/CEO Jeffrey McDermott. Early ideas focused on a museum, but McDermott says they are considering many other options as well. There is no shortage of suggestions, he says, as the committee follows a “thoughtful and deliberate” process.

Here is a glimpse of the spaces included in one of Hamilton County’s most impressive estates.