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The Escambia Community Clinic provides a number of providers all through the county. Thanks to its partnership with each Baptist Health Care and Sacred Heart Health System they serve most of the space’s poor and uninsured inhabitants.
Gregg Pachkowski/gregg@pnj.com

The U.S. Army veteran leaned closely on his cane as he navigated the room, each shuffling step deliberate, labored, painful.

Homeless and hurting — a survivor of a stroke, congestive coronary heart failure and a host of different sicknesses— Washington Trotter Jr. had problem simply crossing the size of the Waterfront Rescue Mission’s Day Resource Center. Still, it was infinitely preferable to crossing city to go to Baptist, Sacred Heart or West Florida.

Tucked into the center of Waterfront’s campus for homeless providers is a small health middle staffed by staff of Escambia Community Clinics. The health care middle was purposely positioned to be accessible to people like Trotter.

“Every time I go over, I can just walk in,” Trotter defined. “They see me the same day. They get me my medication the same day.”

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Accessibility is the secret for Escambia Community Clinics, a community of not-for-profit group health facilities created for the categorical objective of therapeutic the impoverished and underserved.

ECC’s docs, nurses and dentists could be discovered at faculty buildings, rolling by means of the group in cellular medical and dental vans and serving populations in Pensacola, Cantonment, Century and Milton.

“We’ve embraced this model called community-centered health, and basically it’s us as an organization reaching out beyond the exam room walls and intimately getting to know the communities that we serve,” stated Chandra Smiley, ECC’s government director.

In follow, meaning assembly communities the place they’re. ECC at present has 13 websites — three of which have been added inside the previous yr — and plans so as to add two new websites to its community within the close to future.

Whether it is lack of transportation, lack of insurance coverage or lack of revenue, Smiley does not need obstacles to maintain individuals from with the ability to obtain health care.

Last yr alone, ECC offered greater than $6.eight million in charitable care, serving greater than 34,000 distinctive sufferers — often the uninsured or working poor — throughout some 105,000 visits.

“Our mission is to provide care to our patients regardless of their ability to pay,” Smiley stated. “We serve people who wouldn’t seek health care otherwise or they would seek it in inappropriate places like the (emergency room) … . We really try to make it simple.”

A security internet

Established in 1991, ECC was born out of the ashes of University Hospital, an Escambia County-owned facility that on the time of its closing was hemorrhaging about $2 million a yr.

Officials realized that though closing the hospital made monetary sense, doing so would create a void in reasonably priced medical care choices. One of the considerations amongst personal hospitals was that if the general public hospital went away, struggling households would flip to emergency rooms for remedy of sicknesses like routine colds and ear infections. That would improve prices to sufferers and additional clog ready rooms bursting with individuals looking for remedy for precise emergencies.

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Ultimately, the county closed the general public hospital however got here along with Sacred Heart Hospital and Baptist Health Care to fund Escambia Community Clinics as a security internet for indigent households.

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Escambia Community Clinics offers reasonably priced healthcare based mostly on revenue to over 34,000 sufferers in Escambia County. There are over 13 websites with extra to return. Read the complete story on pnj.com Thursday night and in print Sunday.
Brandon Girod/cgirod@pnj.com

Guided by former Executive Director Donald Turner, ECC opened its doorways in 1992 with a single location. In 2007, ECC certified as a Federally Qualified Health Center, a designation that opened up a stream of federal grant funding and allowed the clinic to obtain enhanced reimbursements for offering care to Medicaid and Medicare sufferers.

By the top of Turner’s 22-year watch, ECC had expanded to 9 places, with the Waterfront Mission clinic its most up-to-date addition.

Turner retired in late 2014 and handed away in 2016, however his understudy, Smiley, has taken up the torch and ran with it. With a community of companions together with the University of Florida, the Florida Department of Health, Children’s Home Society and the Escambia County School District, ECC has continued to broaden and enhance.

Since final yr, ECC has opened a wellness cottage at C.A. Weis Elementary School devoted to serving youngsters, a pediatric and dental clinic in Cantonment and a women’s health clinic with a neighboring obstetrics residency program in Pensacola.

Altogether, ECC’s amenities present a complete suite of providers together with grownup and pediatric household practices, behavioral health, dentistry, optometry, prenatal care, laboratory work, X-rays, pharmacy help, case administration and different supportive providers.

“Having multiple sites and portals of care is important,” Smiley stated.

“It’s important for people to establish that medical home, so that when they get their wellness checks, they come here. That way when they get sick, they can come see us and do not go to the emergency room. (They) have that consistent continuity of care of a doctor and have a team that supports that doctor.”

More than 85 % of ECC’s sufferers have an revenue under the federal poverty degree.

For sufferers who fall under the federal poverty degree, remedy is usually free. For individuals between 101 and 150 % of the FPL, the copay is simply $5.

“It not only takes care of your visit, but if you need an X-ray, (the copay) takes care of your X-ray,” Smiley stated. “If you need labs, it takes care of your labs. It’s not that we charge that copay over and over again.”

ECC makes some income from insured sufferers, and participates in a federal program that permits the group to buy prescription drugs at significantly discounted prices.

Smiley stated a mixture of native and federal funding offsets the prices of charity care and permits ECC to offer the bottom copays within the state.

Annually, ECC receives about $2.5 million in federal funding from the federal authorities, roughly $455,000 from Escambia County, and round $525,000 every from Baptist and Sacred Heart. ECC additionally will get further funding from Santa Rosa County to function the Milton location.

Smiley stated it would not be attainable for ECC to do what it does with out all these entities coming collectively for the great of the group.

“That partnership and commitment remains today, as strong as it was in the early 90s,” Smiley stated.

Community-centered health care

A younger lady walked up C.A. Weis wellness cottage, trailed by a group of youngsters.

Latavia McCarty had seen the signal for the group clinic within the parking zone and stopped in to see if they might examine on her niece. Ten minutes after she arrived, a nurse had McCarty’s niece on an examination desk, checking her vitals in a little room adorned with planets and stars.

McCarty stated it was her first go to to the cottage, however she was thrilled to have a clinic proper within the coronary heart of the neighborhood.

“A lot of times, we can’t go to urgent care, and there are no options to get the kids in and out, especially if you’re a busy mom and you have kids in things like band,” she stated.

ECC’s pediatric clinic at Weis opened in 2016 and is obtainable to all youngsters locally, offering every part from check-ups to immunizations.

“Being in a school has provided greater access for lower-incomes families,” stated Melissa Byrd, a pediatric nurse practitioner at Weis. “The kids don’t have to miss class, and the parents don’t have to miss work.”

Weis was Florida’s second “community school,” a idea emphasizing not solely scholar schooling, but in addition health, group engagement and security. It was made a actuality in Pensacola via a partnership among the many faculty district, Children’s Home Society and ECC.

The concept is to determine and tackle underlying points that could be a barrier to a household’s progress and future success.

For occasion, a variety of Weis’ college students come from Oakwood Terrace, a federally sponsored housing complicated with excessive charges of crime and poverty. School companions discovered many youngsters from the complicated went hungry on weekends, in order that they labored with Manna Food Pantries to ship needy youngsters residence with backpacks filled with meals.

ECC took this system a step additional, beginning a meals insecurity program in Oakwood Terrace to show the scholars’ mother and father and different residents of the group to prepare dinner more healthy, store more healthy and, finally, assume more healthy. ECC additionally introduced in audio system to speak about job alternatives, instructional packages and different assets.

To help in different communities the place mother and father might lack time or transportation, ECC has a pair of vans — a medical van and a dental van — that travels to totally different faculty campuses and supply care on website.

It’s an instance of how ECC’s mission goes past addressing simply the apparent signs.

“It’s not the typical, ‘Come in, let’s talk about your potential diabetes or how you’re at risk for diabetes,'” Smiley stated. “(Instead), it’s ‘Let’s get to know you so you trust us,’ and if they are sick and need care, it’s us that they think of to come to — not the emergency rooms or just foregoing treatment all together.”

The clinic on the Waterfront Mission is one other instance of the idea.

Dan Mines, affectionately recognized to his sufferers as “Dr. Dan,” carried out visits with greater than Four,400 homeless sufferers final yr.

Ailments can vary from contaminated bug bites, to dehydration, to unwanted effects of drug or alcohol abuse, to psychological health issues, to longstanding persistent sicknesses. Mines sees most of his sufferers as walk-ins, as a result of he is aware of physician’s appointments rank comparatively low on his shoppers’ lists of every day priorities.

“If they can go to Action Labor and get a day’s work, and have to choose between, ‘I can either go to work and get enough money to eat, or I can go to the clinic,’ what would you do?” Mines requested rhetorically.

He stated the objective was to make it straightforward for sufferers to get assist, so medical employees might present preventive care as an alternative of reactive care. He famous ambulance rides typically value $600 to $800 and emergency room visits have been $1,600 — prices his sufferers could not afford and emergency medical organizations would not recoup.

Whenever attainable, Mines pushes his sufferers to benefit from the counseling, coaching and substance abuse packages on the Waterfront Rescue Mission.

“Our goal is to get them healthy enough to get them back to work, and then back on their feet,” Mines stated.

One affected person, Sonya Crawford, waited in a chair within the Day Resource Center, clutching at ribs she cracked in a fall. She stated she had been capable of get remedy and drugs from Mines, together with info on housing packages from employees on the Waterfront Rescue Mission.

“I feel safe here,” Crawford stated. “It’s like my family. It’s like my home. It’s been a blessing to me.”

A brand new residence

For all of its progress over the previous few years, it hasn’t been all clean crusing for ECC.

In April 2014, ECC’s most important headquarters at 2200 Palafox Street, the clinic at Waterfront Mission and a dental facility have been all flooded throughout extreme rains.

“Our main service delivery site … had about 2 1/2 feet of brown water throughout the entire facility,” Smiley stated. “It hadn’t been our first flood, we had gone through several prior to, but it was probably the most devastating, and we just made a decision to not go back.”

ECC employees moved into the shell of an previous motel at 14 W. Jordan St. While the workforce has made the constructing work, the setup is lower than ultimate.

The constructing was inbuilt 1949, in accordance with property appraiser data, and there is barely sufficient room for ECC to perform, not to mention develop. The facility is a net of slender hallways the place docs cut up time in examination rooms. The surrounding system of one-way streets outdoors make it troublesome for ambulances to get out and in if a affected person wants emergency care.

“It’s certainly not optimal,” Smiley defined wryly.

The excellent news is ECC has managed to safe a new house on the former website of Allie Yniestra Elementary School on West Jackson Street.

For the previous a number of months, Greenhut development crews have been retrofitting the constructing, eradicating previous partitions and placing up the frames for new workplaces, lobbies and examination rooms. The new major website will protect some ornamental parts from the old-fashioned, together with putting theater-style seating from the varsity’s previous auditorium in hallways and utilizing wooden planks from the stage for craft counter tops.

The development is on monitor to wrap up in early 2018. When accomplished, the constructing will home ECC’s administrative workplaces, in addition to present grownup main care, a pediatric clinic, optometry, on-site pharmacy providers by way of Thrif-T Drugs, psychological health providers and even a group backyard.

ECC purchased the constructing from the Escambia County School District for $675,000, and Smiley predicts renovating the construction into a clinic will value in extra of $eight million with Federal Emergency Management Agency and New Markets Tax Credit overlaying a good portion of that quantity.

“For our providers, being able to have the exam rooms they need, they’ll be able to manage more patients,” Smiley stated.

Though some providers will switch to the brand new headquarters, the power on Jordan Street will stay in place and lively.

“The 32505 ZIP code is where the majority of our patients reside,” Smiley stated. “About 17 percent of our patients live there, so (our) being in that ZIP code makes access easier.”

The facility will finally be the crown jewel in a collection of latest ECC initiatives and packages.

In April, ECC opened a new pediatrics facility in Cantonment with medical, dental and behavioral health providers. In an adjoining classroom, Head Start will present courses for Three-year-old and Four-year-old pre-kindergarten college students.

This yr, ECC additionally launched a women’s health clinic throughout the road from the group’s First Steps pediatric middle, giving women a central website for each their and their youngsters’s medical wants.

“We always offered women’s health services, but we really pulled those services out and created its own location,” Smiley stated. “What we’ve been able to do by doing that is we partnered with Sacred Heart and the University of Florida to bring obstetrics residents on site, so we’re offering prenatal care and services, as well as the women’s health services.”

ECC has a dental clinic with seven chairs within the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County workplaces on West Fairfield. In workplace area on the identical campus, ECC, Sacred Heart, University of Florida and the DOH are additionally getting ready to launch a separate pediatric residency program for medical college students.

Dr. John Lanza, director of the Escambia County DOH, stated it made sense to place this system locally fairly than in a hospital as a result of the surroundings was extra consultant of the place the pediatric college students can be working in the event that they went into personal apply. He added that the location can be a boon for mother and father, who might get delivery certificates or apply to packages like Women, Infants and Children complement vitamin in the identical constructing.

“It’s not quite a one-stop, but it’s getting close to that,” Lanza stated. “It will be the largest hub for pediatrics clinical care, outside of hospital care, in Escambia/Santa Rosa counties.”

In addition, ECC is additional increasing its health care choices within the north finish of Escambia County.

“We’re actively working with Lakeview in co-locating a primary care clinic up in Century,” Smiley stated. “We’ve got a model here at the main campus on Lakeview where we have primary care right there with outpatient psychiatry, and that partnership has worked well in being able to really provide a comprehensive approach for patients, so we’re going to replicate that up in Century.”

Smiley stated there was nobody impetus for ECC’s current progress, however a mixture of group want, grant funding, organization-wide imaginative and prescient and like-minded companions had made all of it potential.

“In everything we do, we think about the patients who are in need,” Smiley stated. “That’s the reason we’re here.”

ECC’s websites are:

  • Cantonment Medical Center, 748 U.S. Highway 29, Cantonment
  • ECC at Lakeview Center: ECC Adult Family Practice Clinic, 1221 W. Lakeview Ave., Building E. ECC Pediatric Clinic, 1221 W. Lakeview Ave. (second flooring of Children’s Service Center
  • ECC Dental Clinic, 1295 W. Fairfield Drive, Pensacola
  • ECC Main Appointment Clinic, 14 W. Jordan St. 
  • ECC Urgent Care, 14 W. Jordan St., Suite A&B
  • ECC Century Pediatrics and Children’s Dental, 501 Church St., Century
  • ECC Water Front Rescue Mission, 350 Herman St.
  • C.A. Weis Elementary Wellness Cottage, 2701 North Q St.
  • 12th Avenue Pediatrics (previously Lanza Pediatrics), 2510 N. 12th Ave.
  • ECC Women’s Health Center, 5855 Creek Station Drive
  • Santa Rosa Community Clinic, 5520 Stewart St., Milton
  • First Steps Pediatrics, 5868 Creek Station Drive, Building A
  • ECC Cantonment Pediatrics and Children’s Dental, 470 South U.S. Highway 29, Cantonment

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