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Lee Health expanding medical care to under-served communities

Lee Community Healthcare
Posted at 8:37 PM, Oct 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-11 20:41:32-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Lee Health wants to set up health clinics, even if it's just mobile ones, in communities that are often overlooked, all thanks to a federal grant.

Bob Johns, the Executive Director for Lee Community Healthcare told Fox 4 they are excited about the opportunity.

“We are trying to strategically place our offices in the communities in greatest need and this grant is allowing us to go the next step which is what I call bringing the mountain or the service to the people

That service Johns is talking about is made possible by a $3.2 million dollar grant awarded to Lee Health by the U.S. Health Resource Services Administration.

Lee Community Healthcare isn’t moving any mountains, but they are providing healthcare to people who need it, but often can't afford it.

“It will increase access primarily to, primary care and it will do so for folks that are mostly uninsured and are low-income families," said Johns.

He says the newly acquired cash will allow Lee Health to drive mobile medicine vans directly into communities that need them.

In the case of bigger communities like Dunbar, the plan is to expand the existing neighborhood medical center, to care for even the youngest bodies and minds, with specialists.

“A mental health provider and family medicine physicians will be able to take care of kiddos. Right now we take care of adolescents, you know 12 to 13-year-olds up to adults,” said Johns.

Over the past year, Johns says their 14 outpatient locations saw 42,440 patients and of those patients, he says 9,124 or 21.5% of them were uninsured.

Johns told Fox 4 nearly 90% of all patients from this past year were from low-income families.

He says that kind of need can be overwhelming for the people who provide treatment, creating gaps in care.

“Some of this is an outgrowth of a heightened awareness about the fact that we have blind spots and that we are trying to learn and trying to address those blind spots," said Johns.

With that in mind, he says the grant will also be used to build telemedicine hubs where people can use computers to speak with doctors online.

Johns says it's a process that takes constant communication and can involve a lot of late nights but he says it's all worth it.

“I'd rather do that than go home at night and just...think that I have done a great job when really someone didn’t get the care they needed,” he said.