The oldest free and charitable clinic in the U.S.  provides important health care to the underserved in Buchanan County

social welfare

The Social Welfare Board of Buchanan County provides medical and dental care to residents of Buchanan County with income restrictions. The clinic also houses a Westside clinic that provides women’s health and family planning services utilizing a sliding fee scale with no residential restrictions. The clinic is funded  through multiple sources: City of St. Joseph and Buchanan County, local, state and  federal grants, donations and financial assistance from the Friends of the Free Clinic.  A six member Board of Directors, appointed by the City and County governs the Social Welfare Board.  A 21 member board governs the Friends of the Free Clinic.

To find out more about the
Social Welfare Board
Click the link below for
“A History of the Social Welfare Board”, that was written by Donald J. Stallard, Sr., M.D.

“A History of the Social Welfare Board” – Click Here

The Problem

  • Approximately 10,334 Buchanan County residents 18-64 years of age live in poverty ( ie. annual earnings less than $12,880)
  • 12,464 Buchanan County residents (14.7%) do not have health insurance
  • In Missouri only 63.3% of adults have visited a dentist in the last year & Buchanan County is in the low visit quintile in the state. (Reference Oral Health in Missouri 2020.
    • Resource:

Our Approach…

  • The Social Welfare Board provides low cost primary healthcare and dental care to Buchanan County residents with limited incomes.
  • Women’s Health and Family planning services are provided on a sliding fee scale basis regardless of residency and income.
  • Medical patients are asked to donate $5.00 per medical visit.
  • The clinic connects established patients to free or low cost medications and specialty care.
  • The dental clinic charges $20.00 per tooth.

Our Impact….

2020-2021 patient visit data: medical 5,934; dental 3,190; Westside (women’s health/family planning) 2,790.

Annually at least $5,000,000 worth of medications are dispensed free of charge from the clinic’s dispensary and through patient assistance programs.

You have the power to help one life breathe easier.

You can choose to make a small monthly gift that will help bring back optimism for the underinsured working poor in the greater St. Joe area, by providing basic healthcare.

Dental Clinic:


Since 2009, the Social Welfare Board has maintained accreditation as a Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) by NCQA (National Committee for Quality Assurance.   The NCQA recognition is an effort by the entire staff!   From the moment, a person becomes a SWB  patient and walks through our door each staff person has a vital role in the care that patient receives.  To achieve NCQA status is truly an impressive accomplishment for the Social Welfare Board as it demonstrates to our community, stakeholders and patients that we are providing QUALTIY HEALTH CARE!  CONGRATULATIONS SOCIAL WELFARE BOARD TEAM!

WHAT does NCQA evaluate? A PCMH recognized practice is evaluated in six Concept Areas:

  1. Team-Based Care and Practice Organization – Helps structure a practice’s leadership, care team responsibilities and how the practice collaborates with patients, families and caregivers.
  2. Knowing and managing our Patients – Sets standards for data collection, medication reconciliation, evidence-based clinical decision support and other activities.
  3. Patient-Centered Access and Continuity – Guides practices to provide patients with convenient access to clinical advice and helps ensure continuity of care.
  4. Care Management and Support – Helps clinicians set up care management protocols to identify patients who need more closely managed care.
  5. Care Coordination and Care Transitions – Ensures that primary and specialty care clinicians are effectively sharing information and managing patient referrals to minimize cost, confusion and inappropriate care.
  6. Performance Measurement and Quality Improvement – Improvement helps practices develop ways to measure performance, set goals and develop activities that will improve performance.

 What does this mean for the Social Welfare Board?

Every year the SWB submits an annual report to NCQA that covers the following areas: Same day appointments – Timely clinical advice   –  appointment process –    case management referrals – Lab and imaging management – referral / specialty tracking system — identifying unplanned ED/hospitalizations – Risk stratification for patient needs – comprehensive health assessments – advance care planning – oral health – Communication needs – depression / behavioral health screenings – demographic evidence – proactive DM eye exams – Patient surveys – website – patient care team meetings/huddles –  Quality assurance staff meetings- patient handbook- timely clinical advice

 Why is NCQA recognition important for the Social Welfare Board?

  1. Financially: It proves to our funders that the Social Welfare Board provides quality health care that is based on best practices. The Social Welfare Board is also able to leverage grants that are more competitive.
  2. Improves staff satisfaction as processes are streamlined
  3. Improves the patient’s experience; better management of chronic conditions; reduces fragmentation of care and improves patient centered access to health care!



Donations of any size are appreciated and will help sustain the healthcare services that the Social Welfare Board provides the uninsured residents of Buchanan County.

Click on the ‘Donate’ button and enter ‘Friends of the Free Clinic’ in the Purpose field.



AmazonSmile1Friends of the Free Clinic has partnered with the Amazon Smile Foundation – for every purchase you make on Amazon Smile, 5% will be donated to the Friends of the Free Clinic!  Click here for: More information