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St. Lucie County aims to open health care center for uninsured by 2009

Posted Jun 24th, 2008 by Patient Assistance Team

Government officials, hospitals and charities in the County are working together in order to open a health care facility for the uninsured and working-poor residents by 2009. According to a 2002 survey, almost one in four adults in the County did not have health care.

That number is higher than the state average and only seems to be rising, if what’s happening at clinics like Mustard Seed Ministries, is happening elsewhere. “There’s more uninsured than there ever have been,” said director of the facility, Stacy Malinowski. “I think we’re a boiling pot that’s just ready to go over.”

Mustard Seed assisted in paying 97 persons’ prescription bills in 2007, which is less than half the number they helped in 2006 due to the increase of medical costs. As need rises, so does the cost of health care. Couple this with the slowing economy – family income lowering – and the cost can become a luxury for many families.

The St. Lucie County clinic hopes to help alleviate this issue as much as it can.

Estimates peg the cost to start the clinic at $400,000 and $700,000 to run annually. Various charities similar to Mustard Seed are donating what they can – including time and assistance. Two thousand square feet were donated by the County at a former Sam's Club on U.S. 1 for the clinic, while The Salvation Army has donated exam tables.

Organizers recognize that volunteers will be integral to the success of the clinic and hope the community will be behind the effort. Indian River Community College has agreed to send nursing students to help and the organizers are looking to hire a full-time doctor.

Although the clinic won’t be able to help all those in need, by helping those that have been turned away elsewhere, it will be a big boon.

Said Molinski, “If we don't open another clinic, another source, we’re turning these people way. … If these people don't get treatment they need, they could die.”

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