The Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas was being transformed Thursday into a free medical clinic that will see more than 1,000 patients on Saturday.
"We're turning the convention center into the world's largest doctor's office," said Nicole Lamoureaux, organizer with the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics. "We know we can see another thousand patients if we had 30 more providers."
Dallas County has among the highest rates in the country of people without health insurance.
"They, in spite of best efforts, truly want to pay for care and believe that is their own family value, but they can't afford it," explained Larry Robins, who has a clinic in Dallas and is chairman of the board of the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics.
Robins' PediPlace clinic in Dallas sees primarily Medicare and uninsured patients.
"The anxiety coming into the office if you're not insured, it's overwhelming," said Mickea Jackson, whose son, Elijah, goes to the clinic regularly to be treated for asthma and severe allergies.
Elijah was among the estimated 29 percent of Dallas County residents without health insurance when he first moved to Dallas. Now, Jackson says her son is covered by Medicaid, but she knows the shame and struggle anyone coming to the free clinic faces.
"Those are my neighbors. Those are the people that my son goes to school with. These are my family members," Jackson explained. "The pressure is overwhelming for them."
Saturday's free clinic, called Dallas C.A.R.E (Communities are Responding Everyday), is meant to take away some of that pressure, so patients don't have to choose between seeing a doctor and paying a utility bill.
"'Because there but by the grace of God go I,'" Lamoureaux pointed out. "Because at any point, our health could be taken away from us."
The NAFC Free Clinic runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 9. Appointments are filled, but walk-ins are welcome.