Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

Second Department


First Advisor

Lori Marso

Second Advisor

Jeffry Witsoe




healthcare, community, human rights, reform, medical attention, clinics


This thesis explores the right to health care and the role of free clinics through a case study on the Schenectady Free Health Clinic located in Schenectady, NY. With the current health care reform and the economic crisis, the Schenectady Free Health Clinic was facing closure. This thesis aimed to study how the services provided by the clinic impacted the local community in order to better understand what would happen if the clinic was forced to close. Over the past year, the clinic has been struggling due to lack of funding from the state government. This lack of funding stems mainly from the idea that the state and the country do not posses the same ideals as the volunteers of the clinic: that is, health care as a human right. This thesis aimed to understand the bridge created between health care as a human right and free clinic’s. This thesis focused on the Schenectady Free Health Clinic because of its status as a well established community health care organization as well as because of the current financial situation it faces. In order to better understand the clinic, several different methods of research were implemented. Research included reading articles and books, conducting a patient survey, talking to community residents, participant observation at the clinic, and conducting interviews with doctors and patients. Additionally, an ongoing campaign was held in order to raise awareness and restore funding to the clinic. Overall, it was understood that the clinic is an invaluable community resource.