DCF Edward Waters College, City of Jacksonville Partner to Bring Health Clinic to Inner-City Area

For Immediate Release:
Sept. 23, 2015

DCF Edward Waters College, City of Jacksonville Partner
to Bring Health Clinic to Inner-City Area

Thousands Of Children, Families In Area That Has Been Under-Served For Health Care Expected
To Be Helped By New Clinic Opening of Clinic This Wednesday, Sept. 30 at 10 a.m.

JACKSONVILLE-  Research has shown that there are large health disparities in some inner-city areas of Jacksonville, where incomes are low and poverty is high.  In areas just northwest of Downtown, the rate of bronchitis and diabetes is about two and a half times higher than the rest of Duval County.  Deaths from chronic disease are one and a half times higher than the rest of the county, and rates of HIV and asthma are significantly higher than Duval County as a whole.

To improve the lives of thousands of children and families in these areas, the new Schell Sweet Community Health Clinic will open this Wednesday, September 30 at 10 a.m. at Edward Waters College’s Milne Auditorium, located at 1658 Kings Road in Jacksonville.  A ribbon-cutting will follow the opening.  Several local leaders are scheduled to attend, including Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) Assistant Secretary for Operations Vicki Abrams, DCF Interim Region Managing Director Pattie Medlock, Family Support Services of North Florida CEO Lee Kaywork, and Casey Family Programs Senior Director Paul DiLorenzo.

“This clinic is important to our entire community, since so many children and families are facing health challenges because of a lack of transportation and a lack of income,” explained DCF Interim Region Managing Director Pattie Medlock.  “A large number of people in these areas have either been going to an emergency room for treatment- which costs both them and our community significantly more money- or deferring health care entirely.   We predict that the Schell Sweet Community Health Clinic will significantly improve the health of people in these neighborhoods.  As a result, those neighborhoods will be stronger as well.”

DCF played a critical role in the opening of the clinic, including bringing key partners together and leading the process to select the clinic’s director, Dr. John Assi, M.D.   Additionally, DCF has helped to guide planning and logistics for the clinic, and has worked with Baptist Health, UF Health Jacksonville and United Healthcare to secure donations of needed supplies and equipment, including exam tables and furniture.  The valuable consulting expertise of Casey Family Programs has helped DCF in the overall Community of Hope effort for the 32209 zip code.  This initiative is designed to help families by preventing child abuse and neglect, resulting in children staying in their own homes and reducing the number of children in the foster care system.

The clinic’s location at Edward Waters College’s Schell Sweet Community Resource Center will be convenient for the area, making it more of a one-stop shop for social services.  The center currently offers several important programs, such as the STEPS (Strengthening Ties and Empowering Parents) program, ElderSource and Veteran’s Affairs.  These programs will be able to refer people to the clinic, and the clinic will be able to inform its patients about how these programs could help them.   The clinic is designed to serve low and moderate-income families, as well as students at EWC.

The clinic’s director, Dr. Assi, has a long history of serving Medicaid patients, and the general public will be able to come to the clinic.

“So many people in this area don’t have a primary health care physician.  With this clinic, we believe that will change,” said DCF Circuit Community Development Administrator Bryan Hensley.