WIMAUMA, Fla. — A new, permanent medical clinic is set to bring better, regular healthcare to people without insurance in Wimauma and South Hillsborough County.
Baycare Health opted to create a standalone facility after years of operating the La Esperanza Mobile Medical Clinic. The medical provider, along with Catholic Charities, will host an opening/blessing for the facility on Wednesday morning. It will officially open in August 2021.
While the mobile unit has only been operating one day a week, since 2013, volunteer doctors and nurses have seen more than 6,000 patients, according to Linda Wilkerson, Faith Community Nursing Manager with Baycare.
Nurse Coordinator Magda Setzer-Podowski has been caring for these uninsured families through the mobile unit since the clinic opened. Many are agricultural farmworkers with few resources working in the Wimauma area.
"We are keeping patients from emergency rooms because that's where they will go if there weren't clinics like us," she said.
Setzer-Podowski said while there have been many challenges, they've also seen many success stories. Many include getting people to manage their diabetes and hypertension.
La Esperanza, which translates to "hope," also connects patients with specialists, like ophthalmologists, for free.
"We are promoting health care, we are promoting good health habits, we are teaching the people," Setzer-Podowski said.
Baycare leaders believe having a permanent facility, as opposed to a mobile unit, will allow them to help more people.
"To have a spot that we can call our own, be open more, bring in more specialty doctors, just to really be able to expand on what the good work that we're already doing," Wilkerson said. "For them [patients], it's going to be this familiar place where they can feel comfortable and trust that their care and their needs going to be met."
When the clinic opens officially in August, every Tuesday registration will start at 4:30 p.m. to accommodate the availability of patients.
Every third Thursday, diabetic and hypertensive patients will be seen by appointment. Finally, every other Thursday behavioral health counseling by appointment.