$775,000 in Federal Grant Money Will be Boost for Mulberry Clinic

LAKELAND | Central Florida Health Care, which has clinics throughout Polk County, is being awarded $775,000 in Affordable Care Act funds for new health clinics.
The money will allow Central Florida, already planning a clinic for children’s health care in Mulberry, to expand that clinic’s reach to serve the entire community, according to Gaye Williams, chief executive officer of the federally qualified center.
It will be located at 106 Ninth Ave. NW, Mulberry.

“CFHC will provide affordable, quality, community-based health-care services to Mulberry’s medically underserved, including the low income, elderly, migrant seasonal farm workers, homeless and residents of public housing,” said a news release from the center.

An initial $500,000 funding for the Mulberry clinic came from a school-based health grant, an area in which CFHC was able to demonstrate need, Williams said.
The $775,000 award is one of 16 to programs in Florida, part of 236 communities overall getting that help nationwide, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Thursday.

Central Florida Health Care operates medical clinics in Lakeland, Frostproof, Dundee and Winter Haven, along with a dental clinic in Lake Wales.
It also has clinics in Avon Park and Wauchula.

“We are committed to providing more people across the country with the quality patient-centered care they deserve,” Sebelius said in announcing the awards. “Health centers are key partners in the improving access to quality, affordable health care services for those who need it most.”
Central Florida’s grant was among the largest in Florida.

A ground-breaking ceremony is planned next month for the Mulberry clinic, but the date could change now that the scope of the clinic is expanding, Williams said.
“The board of directors, staff and employees of CFHC are very pleased to be able to work with the citizens of Mulberry to assure that they have local access to services,” she said in the press release, which also said they are “ecstatic to receive the funding.“

Federally qualified centers, such as Central Florida, treat patients on a sliding scale based on income.

They are working with the federal government to help people navigate their way through enrollment for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare. In Polk, that help is at its Frostproof, Lakeland and Winter Haven offices.

The center expects more demand for care from previously uninsured people as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

[ Robin Williams Adams can be reached at robin.adams@theledger.com or 863-802-7558. Read her blog at robinsrx.blogs.theledger.com. Follow on Twitter @ledgerROBIN. ]

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