New Orleans Clinic Gives Jazz Musicians Free Care

Volunteer doctors eagerly treat musical idols
By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 30, 2009 5:48 PM CDT
Buckwheat Zydeco performs before a large crowd at the at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in New Orleans, Saturday, May 2, 2009.   (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
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(Newser) – One New Orleans couple is so passionate about jazz that they give musicians free or low-cost health care, NBC News reports. The New Orleans Musicians' Clinic, founded 11 years ago, tries “to prevent death by lifestyle" for low-paid musicians who can’t afford treatment, says one founder. "We do anything we can to make a wellness plan for every single musician who comes through our doors."

The clinic is powered by a government grant, private donations, and a team of volunteer doctors—many of whom are unabashed jazz addicts. Musicians “walk in and I say, 'I was just listening to your CD this morning,’” one says. "And they love it, they love a little bit of gush." But their grant is running out, and donations are down—so the clinic is seeking public and private dollars. "And we're talking large dollars, because as you know health care is very expensive," another founder says.