Frequently Asked Questions

What is our mission?

Our mission is to facilitate access to health care for all, with a focus on the needs of the un- and underinsured.

We strive to provide access to health care based on need, not on ability to pay, where the talent and generosity of our community come together via a variety of Ithaca Health Alliance programs.

Who do we serve?

The Ithaca Health Alliance serves everyone:
  • We serve the un- and underinsured through our Free Clinic services and healthcare grants,
  • We provide health education and information resources free to all, and
  • We serve our community by promoting wellness, healthy living, and health affirming projects.

What kind of community health projects do we conduct?

The Ithaca Health Alliance conducts two major projects: the
Ithaca Health Fund and the Ithaca Free Clinic (IFC). The Ithaca Health Fund is a medical assistance program that provides grants and interest-free loans for specific medical, dental, and holistic expenses. The Ithaca Free Clinic is a completely free, integrative medical center located in Ithaca, NY. Other projects focus on health education and include our quarterly newsletter, free lectures by medical professionals and community members, as well as tabling and canvassing events.

Who is eligible for Ithaca Health Alliance membership?

Membership is available to all New York State residents.

How can I become a member of the Ithaca Health Alliance?

You can
become a member of the Ithaca Health Alliance in one of four ways.
  • General Membership: General members join for a donation of just $100 a year.
        General Membership for Businesses and Organizations: The Health Alliance offers special membership incentives for businesses that enroll employees as general members or for organizations that enroll their members as a group ($80 per person).
  • Provider Memberships: Health service providers who practice any health and wellness modality may join as provider members for a sliding scale donation of $50.00 or more. Provider members agree to offer other Health Alliance members a standard discount of the provider's choice on professional services.
  • Donated Membership: The Health Alliance gives memberships to individuals living in New York State who cannot afford to pay a membership donation, with funds provided by private donations or sponsoring affiliates. Through this program we ensure that our services are available to anyone in need. Please contact us to apply for this program.
  • Affiliate Membership: These sponsor members donate to the IHA in order to support the mission of community-driven healthcare solutions. Affiliate members are ineligible for grants and loans, and they do not vote on issues or in elections.

What are the benefits of Ithaca Health Alliance membership?

Ithaca Health Alliance membership provides you with access to an alternative healthcare program, the
Ithaca Health Fund, when insurance programs are outside your means. We provide access to a group of provider members who offer a discount on services to members, commonly 5-10%. Discounted services offered by Health Alliance providers range from dental visits to macrobiotic dinners, from birthing assistance to purchases at a local bicycle shop.

Is the Ithaca Health Alliance an insurance provider?

No. The Ithaca Health Alliance is a nonprofit community health organization. Our programs inform community members about health choices and help people to access healthcare services by offering them for free or by making grants that help members with the costs of health care. The Health Alliance does not provide insurance coverage.

How many people are Health Alliance members?

The Health Alliance currently has an active membership of about 700 people, with a history of having served 2,500 members since its founding.

How do I apply for a grant from the Ithaca Health Fund?

We try to keep the application process simple. We ask that you send us copies of bills for medical or dental services, information about the number of people in your household and your annual household income, and any other information you think will be helpful as we evaluate these bills. The Health Alliance evaluates grant requests weekly.

How can I get a copy of the Ithaca Health Alliance newsletter?

The quarterly newsletter is available for free on our
newsletter page. We also distribute printed copies free to the public at several places accessible to the community around Ithaca and Tompkins County. Health Alliance members who do not provide us with an e-mail address get a printed copy in the mail.

When is the next Health Alliance educational program?

We schedule educational events as need and opportunities arise. You can check the
online calendar or contact us to be added to the mailing list for news about events.

Do you have to be a Health Alliance member to use the Ithaca Free Clinic?

No. Anyone without health insurance can come to IFC for care from our volunteer healthcare providers.

When is the Ithaca Free Clinic open?

We are open for walk-in medical visits on Mondays from 2-6pm, Thursdays 4-8pm, and we provide therapeutic services, including Occupational Therapy, free acupuncture for veterans, and pre-employment physicals by appointment, on Tuesdays. You can find us at 225 South Fulton, Suite B (second floor), next to Agway!

What services are provided at the Ithaca Free Clinic?

The Ithaca Free Clinic, which opened its doors to the public on January 23, 2006, offers
totally free integrative health and wellness services, combining complementary/alternative and conventional Western medicine. Our professional services are provided by our volunteer staff of doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, chiropractors, herbalists, acupuncturists, massage therapists, and others.

What is integrative medicine?

Integrative medicine combines the strengths of different healing practices to provide a range of health services that promote best outcomes for each patient. Through conventional ("allopathic") and holistic health therapies, many different health problems can be improved. Ithaca Free Clinic was the first medically integrated Free Clinic in the United States, and it remains one of only three Free Clinics that provide these services to people who cannot afford the luxury of visits to multiple providers.

How can I volunteer for the Ithaca Health Alliance?

The Ithaca Health Alliance welcomes volunteers with myriad skills and interests.
The Ithaca Free Clinic offers volunteer opportunities for receptionists, discharge assistants, and appropriately credentialed healthcare professionals. The Health Alliance welcomes those interested in public relations, fundraising, health education, or outreach for all projects. Anyone willing to help is always welcome to do so! You can go to our
volunteer information page for additional information or contact us at 607-330-1254!

What is the role of a Health Alliance volunteer?

Volunteers are the face of the organization in our community. For this reason, the Health Alliance expects volunteers to be versed on what the organization has to offer or to be able to provide appropriate referrals to people who could benefit from our services or who would be interested in volunteering or donating to the IHA and its programs.

We expect Ithaca Health Alliance volunteers to determine the amount of time they can commit and the degree of involvement realistic to their circumstances. It is the responsibility of the volunteer to communicate with staff and our volunteer leadership about the level of involvement and contribution.

All committee volunteers in good standing (as defined by the committee) are granted affiliate member status, in recognition of their donation of time to our efforts.

I want direct patient contact at the Free Clinic. How can you help me to achieve my goal?

At the Ithaca Free Clinic, patient treatment is provided only by licensed or credentialed health professionals whose references have been verified . Because we have found it to be disruptive to Free Clinic operations, we do not support the routine "shadowing" of our physicians or other providers. Administrative volunteer jobs offer opportunities to help patients with registration and discharge, and these positions do not require a license.

How are Ithaca Health Alliance programs funded?

As with many charities, we get our funding from variety of sources. The Ithaca Health Fund is completely funded by membership donations, and is a uniquely cooperative model of healthcare cost assistance. Health Alliance members funded the creation of Ithaca Free Clinic through 9 years worth of savings, but today the IFC and our other projects are supported by donations from the community and competitive grants from various foundations.

How can I support the work of the Health Alliance?

Anyone can support our work to facilitate access to health care for all in many ways. You can volunteer for one of our projects or committees. You can send financial contributions to us using the "Donate" button on the left of this page, or mail a check to us at Ithaca Health Alliance, PO Box 362, Ithaca, NY 14851. You can also spread the word: tell friends, neighbors, and others about the work we do, how we can help with their uninsured health needs, and how they, too, can support our efforts!

Is my donation to the Ithaca Health Alliance tax deductible?

The Ithaca Health Alliance has submitted an application for 501(c)(3) tax exemption, which has been under review by the Internal Revenue Service for several years. While we await formal recognition of our charitable status, we operate under the generous fiscal sponsorship of Social Ventures, Inc. Tax exempt contributions can be made out to Social Ventures; please include "Ithaca Health Alliance" in the memo of your check.

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