PORTLAND (NEWS CENTER Maine) -- $260 million dollars. That's how much Maine Medical Center has provided for community programs over the last fiscal year. Community programs like CarePartners.
For the last 17 years it has helped people from York County to Waldo County find primary care doctors and other health care providers, at little or no cost. It's a coverage option for those who are between jobs or can't afford the plans offered through work and it's thanks to a network of more than 1,200 doctors across the state who volunteer their services.
"In Cumberland County alone there are over 500 physicians,” said Carol Zechman, the Director of Access to Care which oversees programs like, CarePartners. “We exist as a safety net.”
In that same county over the last fiscal year, CarePartners served 690 people. People like Louis Burgess who was homeless when he first came to Portland over three decades ago. Now he has a cleaning job at a business in the Old Port.
"I used to have epilepsy. 14 seizures a month but I don't now at all," he said, adding, his medicine to control his seizures costs $400 a month.
Burgess says making ends meet is "very hard, very darn hard."
But as a member of CarePartners, he gets access to the medical help he needs. And providers help him find medicine he can afford.
"I wouldn't know where to turn if it wasn't for them," Burgess said. "It's one less thing I have to worry about."