Health & Medicine

Why thousands of people in Sacramento could miss needed healthcare services this year

Since 2013, tens of thousands of uninsured residents in the greater Sacramento area have relied on a local nonprofit for free annual dental, vision and medical care. But this year, they might have to go without.

The charitable organization California CareForce planned to care for under-insured and uninsured community members with 70 dental chairs, 20 medical exam rooms and 10 vision lanes later this year at Cal Expo.

Several volunteers are lined up to participate in the 2019 Sacramento Clinic, but California CareForce is $75,000 short.

“What people may not know is that California CareForce is funded by grants, foundations, sponsorships and individual donations only. We do not receive any government or federal funding,” Pamela Congdon, founder and executive director, said in a news release.

The nonprofit has raised millions of dollars every year to host clinics in Sacramento, Chico and Placer counties, among other California locations.

Since it held its first clinic in 2011, California CareForce has raised more than $5 million to serve 8,532 patients in Sacramento County alone, according to its database. The company’s most recent clinic, held Aug. 3 and 4 in Chico, provided $602,000 in care to more than 1,000 individuals in need.

While all but two of the organization’s workers are volunteers, the services they offer — vision exams and glasses made on-site, dental X-rays and check-ups, and behavioral and health services, plus more — require expensive set-ups and equipment.

They estimated that a two-day clinic costs $150,000 to run, which means they’re missing half of the necessary budget to get this year’s clinic up and running.

“(We) have until August 30 to come up with money or cancel,” Congdon said in the release.

The next confirmed clinic is scheduled for Jan. 11 and 12 at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley.

If you plan to attend, make sure to read California CareForce’s key guidelines at

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Caroline Ghisolfi, from Stanford University, is a local news reporter for The Sacramento Bee, focusing on breaking news and health care. She grew up in Milan, Italy.