Schenectady clinic still short on funds

Despite receiving two checks from the state Department of Health that totaled $125,000 earlier this month, the Schenectady Free Health Clinic said it is still severely short on operating funds in a recent fundraising letter sent to households throughout the county.

According to Executive Director William Spolyar, the clinic has raised close to $400,000, composed of $125,000 in state grants and $100,000 from the County Legislature. The rest of the money stems from private donations.

In their fundraising letter, the clinic's board said it needs approximately $225,000 to bring the organization closer to its $700,000 budget. The additional funds would allow the clinic to remain open for the entirety of their fiscal year, which began this summer.

Spolyar cites the rising cost of prescription drugs as one reason for the financial crisis. The clinic pays all drug costs because patients can't afford the financial burden of high-cost prescriptions.

The board allocated $550,000 for the cost of prescription drugs alone, more than 75 percent of the entire budget. And, Spolyar said the grant money he received from the state has already been spent to pay outstanding bills with CVS Pharmacy that totaled approximately $175,000.

At the clinic we spend an average of $45,000 to $50,000 per month on prescription drugs, said Spolyar.

The fund shortage can also be attributed to a reduction in state grants. Gov. Eliot Spitzer cut a $325,000 grant earlier this year before awarding $125,000 in state aid this November. The clinic was on the verge of closing until they finally received two checks " one for $100,000 on Wednesday, Dec. 12, and the other for $25,000 on Thursday, Dec. 13.

Spolyar is the clinic's only paid employee. The medical team is made up mainly of retired physicians who are part of the Volunteer Physicians Project of Schenectady County. Along with volunteer nurses and staff, the physicians treat uninsured and underinsured adults who have no other source of medical care every Thursday and at 600 Franklin St., Suite 205.

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