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Growing number of Virginians are using free clinics

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The number of patients using free clinics in Virginia is climbing.

The Virginia Association of Free Clinics said Tuesday that the annual number of state residents seeking health-care services from its 61 member clinics rose 11 percent in the 2011 fiscal year.

The free clinics served 80,254 patients on an annual basis, compared with 72,191 in fiscal year 2010. Patient visits for 2011 totaled 388,786.

During the fiscal year, association member clinic also dispensed 771,000 prescriptions, which had a retail value of more than $77 million.

“The tremendous growth in free clinic services reflects continuing weakness in the overall economy coupled with rising health care costs,” Cathy Lewis, the association’s chairman said in a statement. “A large number of our clinics have long waiting lists because they cannot meet the rising demand with the existing resources.”

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