Officials break ground for first permanent Poinciana health care center
By Tiffanie Reynolds
On top of emergency medical clinics and the Poinciana Medical Center, residents of Poinciana can expect a new primary health care facility by fall of 2014.
Osceola County commissioners and Osceola County Health Department officials broke ground for the facility Friday morning, making it the first permanent primary health care center in the area.
“We wanted a permanent structure so that people realize they have a medical home to come to,” Belinda Johnson-Cornett, administrator of Osceola County Health Department, said about the upcoming facility. “That this is here to stay, and we’re here for the community now and in the future.”
The facility is designed to serve residents with ongoing primary care, just like going to a regular doctor. It will serve families in both primary and dental health care. At a total of 16,000 square feet, the two-story facility holds exam rooms, an immunization area, two labs, dental departments and two conference rooms for training and meetings. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) also will share space on the second floor.
Friday’s groundbreaking came after nearly three years of fighting for funds in Florida State Legislature. County Commissioner Brandon Arrington, representing district 3, said that funds were available for the facility years ago, but were lost due to Gov. Rick Scott turning away all federal health care dollars to the state of Florida. It took the work of former state representative Mike Horner, Federally Qualified Health Center Board Chair Mary Ann Barry and himself to put the money into the state budget.
“We have so many working class families over here, and that’s a large contingency that gets served here in our public health clinics. A lot of women and a lot of children, and we have an abundance of both of those in Poinciana, and it’s great that we’re going to be able to provide those medical opportunities at a low cost to the citizens of Poinciana,” Arrington said.
The first health center to open in Poinciana was in trailers, said Johnson-Cornett. Four years ago, the Health Department was able to build a small structure, and immediately applied for a $8.3 million grant. It was accepted, and they’re using part of that grant for the two-story facility today.
Once opened to the public, the center will be able to take both insured and uninsured residents in the county, using a sliding-scale fee for those uninsured.