Free medical service for one day at 12 clinics in Palm Beach County for those in need

On Saturday, 12 clinics across Palm Beach County will throw open their doors to the uninsured and under-insured – no appointments needed, no payment required – as doctors, nurses and local health leaders attempt to respond to the havoc the economic downturn has wreaked on people’s access to basic medical services.
On what the county is calling Medical Home Day, there will be dentists able to pull teeth in Delray Beach, and doctors, nurse practitioners and medical residents elsewhere, from Boynton Beach to Jupiter and the Glades.
Walgreens will supply flu shots at county Health Department clinics, and the agency’s medical staff will be on hand to check blood sugar, offer pregnancy tests and conduct hearing and vision screening, said Tim O’Connor, spokesman for the Palm Beach County Health Department.

On Saturday, 12 clinics across Palm Beach County will throw open their doors to the uninsured and under-insured – no appointments needed, no payment required – as doctors, nurses and local health leaders attempt to respond to the havoc the economic downturn has wreaked on people’s access to basic medical services.

On what the county is calling Medical Home Day, there will be dentists able to pull teeth in Delray Beach, and doctors, nurse practitioners and medical residents elsewhere, from Boynton Beach to Jupiter and the Glades.

Walgreens will supply flu shots at county Health Department clinics, and the agency’s medical staff will be on hand to check blood sugar, offer pregnancy tests and conduct hearing and vision screening, said Tim O’Connor, spokesman for the Palm Beach County Health Department.

The county will provide a free one-day bus pass to people who show they took Palm Tran to the clinic for the event. (A ticket stub or bus pass will do.) Legal aid and insurance counselors will be on hand to help sort out whether people are eligible for safety-net insurance programs like Medicaid or the Health Care District’s Vita Health, O’Connor said.

The day is unusual on many levels, but mainly because it represents the first time that health leaders from non-profit groups, for-profit hospitals, business and government have worked together to tackle the problem of the uninsured.

“It is the first time in the foundation’s 15-year history that everyone is working together on a one-day event that will help the uninsured in our community find a medical home forever,” said Kerry Diaz, president of the Quantum Foundation, which helped coordinate the event.

No one is quite certain how many people to expect, O’Connor said.

A consultant hired by the Palm Beach County Health Care District last summer estimated that more than 265,000 people lack health insurance locally a rate of nearly 1 in 3 people under age 65.

The number of uninsured so appalled County Commissioner Burt Aaronson that he demanded the fairgrounds be opened and doctors and dentists mobilized to offer free health care for a day. That’s not happening, in part because county health director Dr. Alina Alonso objected to the lack of follow-up care associated with such high-profile mass gatherings.

“By spreading it out to multiple clinics, you will have smaller crowds,” Alonso said. Having people wait in line for hour after hour only to be told they have a serious medical condition that requires follow-up care “is dangerous, and it is not good medical care,” she said.

The Palm Beach County Health Care District has made $1 million available to several clinics to cover the first visit of new uninsured patients. The goal is to get them a long-term place to go for their follow-up needs.

“If you tell someone they have high blood pressure and you are not giving them medication and follow-up care, you are not giving them good care,” Alonso said.

If for some reason the clinics are overwhelmed with more people than they can manage to see on Saturday, not to worry, she said.

“We will make a follow-up appointment – that’s another advantage of dispersing it to all the clinics,” she said.

WHERE TO GO

The following clinics will open to the uninsured and under-insured this Saturday, Medical Home Day. Hours are between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., except in Jupiter:

Palm Beach County Health Department clinics:

  • C.L. Brumback Health Center, 38754 State Road 80, Belle Glade.
  • Pahokee-Glades Health Center, 1839 East Main St., Pahokee.
  • Delray Beach Health Center, 225 South Congress Ave., Delray Beach; limited dental services available in addition to medical care.
  • Lantana/Lake Worth Health Center, 1250 Southwinds Drive, Lantana.
  • Northeast Health Center, 851 Avenue P, Riviera Beach.
  • West Palm Beach Health Center, 1150 45th St., West Palm Beach.

Other community clinics:

  • Jupiter Auxiliary Health Center, 6405 Indiantown Road, Jupiter; adult clinic will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and other services will be offered from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • FoundCare, 2330 S. Congress Avenue, Palm Springs.
  • Genesis, 564 E. Woolbright Road, Boynton Beach.
  • Community Health Center, 2823 N. Australian Ave., West Palm Beach.
  • JFK Internal Medicine Faculty and Resident Practice, 160 JFK Drive, Suite 102, Atlantis.
  • Florida Community Health Center 170 S. Barfield Hwy., Suite 103 Pahokee.

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