Federal grant to fund a health clinic in Haines City
By Marilyn Meyer
A community health clinic to serve low-income residents is expected to open in Haines City by
mid-April now that Central Florida Health Care has been awarded a startup grant.
HAINES CITY - A community health clinic to serve low-income residents is expected to open in Haines City by mid-April now that Central Florida Health Care has been awarded a startup grant.
Ann Claussen, chief executive officer of Central Florida Health Care - which operates community health clinics in six cities in Polk County and in three cities in neighboring counties - sent an email Friday announcing the award of the New Access Point grant.
"We applied for $650,000 and received $693,333," Claussen said. "Now we will be able to open up a community health center in an area that greatly needs our services."
And now the clock is ticking - one of the grant's requirements is that the clinic is established within 120 days.
The effort to get the grant began last winter when PEACE - Polk Ecumenical Action Council for Empowerment, an organization representing
20 churches - invited Northeast Polk community leaders to form an exploratory committee about starting a health clinic to provide a medical home and primary care services to low-income and uninsured residents. Claussen chaired the committee.
Central Florida Health Care, which is a federally qualified community health clinic, applied for the grant last summer.
"We knew there were to be only 75 awardees in the whole country so we did not want to get our hopes up," she said. "We were very excited when this came through. "
The federal Health and Human Services secretary announced the names of the 75 health centers in 23 states and Puerto Rico that would receive portions of the $50 million on Thursday. Central Florida Health Care's grant was among five awarded to Florida community health centers.
"For millions of Americans, including some of the most vulnerable individuals and families, health centers are the essential medical home where they find services that promote health, and diagnose and treat disease and disability," Jim Macrae, acting administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration, said in a news release. "One in 13 people nationwide rely on a HRSA-funded health center for their preventive and primary health care needs."
An estimated 15 percent of Polk County's population was uninsured and lacked a medical home in 2014, Claussen said. PEACE has estimated 10,000 people in the northeastern part of the county fall into that category.
— Marilyn Meyer can be reached at email@example.com or 863-802-7558. Follow her on Twitter @marilyn_ledger.
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