Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a large budget that will benefit four safety-net health care clinics in North Florida.
The money will help clinics recover from previous state budget cuts and offer free or reduced services for citizens.
The clinics will receive $750,000 of the budget, according to a press release from UF Health.
The UF College of Medicine’s Mobile Outreach Clinic, theCollege of Nursing’s Archer Family Health Care practice, Alachua County Organization for Rural Needs (ACORN) Clinic and the Sulzbacher Center’s dental clinic will benefit from these funds.
The Mobile Outreach Clinic is a free, bus clinic that provides routine health screenings and primary care in underserved neighborhoods. It was one of the many clinics that suffered a loss when CHOICES, a program that helped uninsured residents of Alachua County get access to health services, ended in December.
With the end of the CHOICES program and loss of funding from the UF College of Medicine, the Mobile Outreach Clinic could only operate four days a week as opposed to five, said Dr. Nancy Hardt, director of the Mobile Outreach Clinic.
With funding from the state, the clinic will be able to maintain current levels of service, she said.
Hardt said this will allow them to serve more people, as the need is increasing.
“I think the community appreciates us very much,” she said.
The Archer Family Health Care practice offers adult, pediatric, psychiatric and women’s health care in Archer, Florida, on an income-based fee.
The Sulzbacher Center provides primary, oral and behavioral health for reduced fees in Jacksonville, Florida. It has two clinics previously staffed with two dentists until budget cuts, said Dr. Suzanne Ebert, dental director of the Sulzbacher Center.
“There is just such a huge need that we cannot meet the need as it is right now,” she said.
The state grant will allow them to hire an additional dentist.
“Right now it’s really difficult because there are only so many hours in the day, and if we get another dentist in here, we can actually just have more time to do the things that we need to do,” Ebert said. “One day we kept seven people out of the emergency room.”
ACORN Clinic, which provides medical and dental care in rural north central Florida on an income-based fee, also suspended a few programs due to budget cuts.
“Just as any nonprofit over the recession saw a shrinkage in donor giving, so did ACORN Clinic,” said Candice King, executive director of the clinic.
With the infusion of cash from the state, it will add two previously canceled programs, which will allow students more time to meet with the patients.
The money will go toward the faculty that supervises students doing rotations, King said.
Victor Chou, a 25-year-old UF dental senior, sees the benefit in these rotations.
“It definitely helps a lot,” Chou said. “We get to do a lot more dental procedures than in dental school. In dental school I see maybe two patients a day, but at ACORN I get to see seven.”
Chou said that the clinic prepares students for the real world and he is happy to be a part of it.
“We try to do everything we can to support folks in our community to get good health services,” King said. “We at ACORN have worked really hard to be part of the evolution of health care.”
She said that there will always be a need for a health care safety net.
“We are here to support those people that have limited access to health care,” she said.