Project Access

Bedside manner: Project Access doctors like William Hathaway — chief of staff at Mission Health — provide everything from routine annual physicals to open-heart surgery for uninsured Buncombe County residents. photo courtesy of Project Access

Lack of health insurance changes the very meaning of wellness.

To address this growing problem, the Buncombe County Medical Society created Project Access in 1996. The award-winning, volunteer network offers free medical care to low-income, uninsured Buncombe County residents who don’t qualify for programs such as Medicaid. Participating physicians provide everything from routine annual physicals to open-heart surgery.

Program highlights:
• When Project Access began, an estimated 15,000 Buncombe County residents were low-income and uninsured.
• By 2005, this number had swelled to an estimated 38,000.
• In 2011, that number stood at about 42,000.
• Patients served last year: 5,660.
• Estimated dollar value of that care: more than $14 million.
• Number of participating physicians: about 650.

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