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Nonprofit serving thousands of Mecklenburg County residents in need of affordable medical care

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

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — 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 refill the uninsured fund, which is set to run out this week.

That will leave close to 30 million Americans without access to necessary, affordable COVID-19 care.

In the Charlotte area, there are organizations working to help fill those gaps. Care Ring NC is a nonprofit that provides medical care to the uninsured and underinsured in Mecklenburg County. The executive director, Tchernavia Montgomery, says at least 16% of the population in the county does not have insurance.

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Typically, those people are already vulnerable and lacking 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 to know that I have somewhere to go that’s going to take care of my medical needs and that I can afford,” Kenia Martinez said. She doesn’t have insurance.

Through an interpreter, she told WCNC Charlotte she’s not sure where she would go for medical attention 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,” Martinez said.

Care Ring serves around 7,600 Mecklenburg County residents every year. Their patients are mainly minority and low-income populations, those who were disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 -- a time when health care couldn’t be pushed off.

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“We have not closed because of COVID since the pandemic began because we understand that if we close our doors there are individuals in the community that would not receive care,” Montgomery said.

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

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

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

They’ve also been a crucial part of chipping away at vaccine hesitancy within minority populations.

Contact Chloe Leshner at cleshner@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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