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A good start to health C.A.R.E. reform locally

Universal care. Affordable service. Easy access.

While Congress debates the pros and cons of various national health care plans, some local residents have turned words into action. Those words are Community, Access, Resources and Education -- what will be known as the C.A.R.E. Clinic.

Goodhue County experimented with a free clinic in the county seat once before, but logistics proved too much. So what might make this one different?

• They have the drive and the know-how.

We're intrigued that the organizers have so much experience with free clinics in a variety of settings. As Wednesday's story explained, these men and women have provided free care locally, in the big city setting and following natural disasters.

• They have the supplies and equipment.

Fairview Red Wing Health Services has donated the space ... prime space in the old St. John's Hospital emergency room. Administrators, doctors and nurses have donated old equipment, too, among other things.

• They have the financial foundation.

A public fund drive is under way. Individuals, churches, civic groups and organizations will be asked to support the clinic, to which the Jones Family Foundation, Red Wing Area Foundation and the United Way of Goodhue, Pierce & Wabasha Counties already have given generously.

• They have a plan.

C.A.R.E. Clinic can't be everything to everybody or even everything to a handful of people, but it's a good beginning -- and it won't cost anyone big bucks. The education on health care basics that comes with each appointment may be the biggest and most cost-effective benefit of all.

We aren't so simpleminded as to think the free clinic won't struggle once it opens in January. Still, we anticipate success and think Congress can learn from our little enterprise: Local providers have set aside partisanship and avoided turf wars, and are working together to fill a universal yet very local need.

C.A.R.E. to join them?