William Sears, 51, sometimes has back pain so intense he cannot sleep or bend to tie his shoes.

It's been that way since 2008, following a work injury and back surgery.

Making matters worse was a heat stroke this summer that shut down Sears' kidneys and prompted doctors to warn him to move out of Phoenix, where he owned his own business installing flooring.

Sears and his wife took the doctors' advice to leave the heat for his health, and they have been living on the outskirts of Flagstaff and seeking work for the last three months.

"I wake up six or seven times every night in pain," Sears said.

And so, Sears was among the patients Tuesday at the opening day for Flagstaff's free clinic for poor and uninsured people, the Poore Medical Clinic.

Patients started arriving at 6:45 a.m., said Bill Packard, one of the clinic's founding members and volunteers.

Physician and co-founder Henry Poore was examining a patient who had a prosthetic limb that had worn out. The patient needed a doctor to say as much in order to receive a new one.

"He said, 'How much money do I need to bring with me?' And I said, 'None,'" Poore recalled.


The clinic is free for Coconino County residents who don't have insurance and are living at less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level (that equates to less than $44,700 a year for a family of four or less than $21,780 for an individual).

"We're getting calls from really sick people who need to be seen," Poore said.

On Tuesday, Kathleen Petty and her two kids fit that description.

Petty has had symptoms resembling bronchitis for about 10 days, and now her 3-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter do too.

They came from their home near Ash Fork to be seen, after losing state-provided health care because they make just a little too much to be eligible under new budget cuts enacted this year.

"We just got kicked off AHCCCS (Arizona's version of Medicaid) because we're right in that range -- too poor to be rich, too rich to be poor," she said.

Her 3-year-old needs his tonsils removed, but they can't afford the surgery.

She's heard of a low-cost surgery program in Yuma, and she might try for that.

Three members of Petty's four-member family have pre-existing health problems, meaning her quotes to buy health insurance have been about $900 per month, or far more than the family can afford.

Petty is a stay-at-home mom looking to start a daycare.

Her husband works in computer technology for a school district in Ash Fork.

"There's been a great need for something like this," Petty said. "I know there are families that are as bad off or worse than we are."


Patients calling into the clinic Tuesday included people with high blood pressure, a history of cancer, and diabetes.

The clinic offers basics like laboratory work, a pharmacy, minor surgery, and vision testing.

As for Sears, Poore prescribed him painkillers to help him get some sleep.

About 50 people have signed up to volunteer at the clinic in various capacities, said Nina Poore, Henry's spouse and another of the clinic's founders.

Located at North Humphreys Street and Fine Avenue (formerly the Concentra urgent care clinic building), the Poore Medical Clinic is currently open Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The clinic has been receiving a variety of donations from others in the medical field.

Stools used by physicians and nurses examining patients were the latest delivery, but there's something new coming in most days.

"We were short a baby scale," Packard said, "and it miraculously appeared."

Cyndy Cole can be reached at 913-8607 or at ccole@azdailysun.com.

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