Patient Satisfaction: Facility Meets Needs of Those Without Health Coverage
By Suzie Schottelkotte
MULBERRY | After months of delays and a year in a temporary building, Central Florida Health Care Inc. began seeing patients at its permanent clinic in Mulberry on Monday.
"It's taken longer than we wanted it to, but we're excited it's finally open," said Ann Claussen, executive director of the Avon Park-based network of nine federally qualified clinics. "The day has finally arrived."
Clinicians treated 16 patients Monday, including 10-year-old Aidan Miller, who came in with an ear infection.
"This is a lot better than the other building," he said, referring to the temporary trailer that had served as the clinic. "We're not all cramped up. There was hardly any room for you to be checked on before."
Kaylana Baker of Mulberry, a self-employed nail and skin care technician, said her 7-year-old son, Codie Kackritz, needs regular check-ups and she has no insurance.
"It's great having this clinic here," she said during his office visit Monday. "I think it's going to be really popular. My son has asthma, and I have to get him checked every six months or I can't get his prescription. That visit would cost $115. Here, they charged me $25."
The $1.4 million clinic, like others in the Central Florida Health Care network, provides medical services to residents who aren't receiving adequate health care, including those with low incomes, the elderly, migrant seasonal farm workers, homeless people and residents in public housing.
As a federally qualified center, the clinic offers services to patients on a sliding scale based on income.
Claussen said the clinic is geared toward primary and pediatric care, with a staff of advanced registered nurse practitioners and support employees.
"Our ARPNs can handle all of that," she said, "and they work under the chief clinical officer for all nine clinics, who is a medical doctor."
Claussen said she wants to a hire a physician for the clinic.
The clinic also includes a laboratory and a pharmacy.
For now, the two-story clinic at State Road 60 and Ninth Street Northwest will operate from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, but the schedule could change.
"We may look at expanding into the evening one day a week," Claussen said, "and if the demand is there, we may open on Saturdays. We're keeping our eye on what the community needs. We are there for them."
The clinic initially was funded to serve only children, based on the community's need, but services have been expanded to include adult care.
Claussen said preventative dental services will be added soon, including cleanings and sealants.
Terry Evers, 70, a Mulberry city commissioner, said he was pleased with the care he received as a patient Monday.
"It was a pleasure dealing with them," he said. "They treated me very well, and we couldn't ask for better service in Mulberry."
Evers said he received a check-up in his initial visit to the clinic.
"I can afford to pay, but some people can't, and it's going to be great for them," he said. "This clinic has been 4 1/2 years in the making, and it's finally come to fruition today."
Central Florida Health Care staged a ground-breaking ceremony for the clinic in December 2013, but that was the only dirt to be turned there until early last year, when agency and city administrators pulled together a temporary clinic building in March to avoid losing a $775,000 federal construction grant.
Clinicians continued to see patients in the temporary trailer until last weekend, when it was removed and crews began paving that area. The site where it stood is now becoming part of the clinic's parking lot.
[ Suzie Schottelkotte can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 863-533-9070. Follow her on Twitter @southpolkscene. ]
Jessica Maxwell, left, examines Aidan Miller, 10, during a routine physical exam at Central Florida Health Care on the clinic's first day on Monday.