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Plan to convert fire station into healthcare clinic draws backlash from neighbors

Posted: 10:45 PM, Apr 23, 2018
Updated: 2018-04-23 23:12:23-04
Neighbors protest plan for new healthcare clinic
Neighbors protest plan for new healthcare clinic
Neighbors protest plan for new healthcare clinic

A proposal to convert an old fire station into a charitable clinic, offering free healthcare to the uninsured, is drawing backlash from neighbors in Wimauma. 

"I just feel like they're shoving something down our throats that we do not want," said Barbara McGuire. 

Some people who live off the 1100 block of 7th Street demand the clinic go somewhere else. 

"Anger. Dissatisfied. Felt unsafe," said Lissette Velazquez. 

Velazquez supports the clinic's mission, but not in her community. 

"90% of the residents here do not benefit from it," said McGuire. "We all have health insurance, we all pay for health insurance."

Several dozen showed their support for the La Esperanza Free and Charitable Clinic Monday night at Reddick Elementary School. 

"It's a place where you can get hope," said Astrid Eure, a longtime volunteer with the clinic. "Imagine you getting sick and not having a place to go."

Catholic Charities currently operates a free healthcare clinic out of a mobile bus. 

Moving into the old fire station would add extra space for volunteer physicians to treat more patients. 

"We're here to serve the most vulnerable people, the poorest people, those who have no insurance with the sole purpose of saving their life," said Mark Dufva, Catholic Charities executive director. 

Hillsborough County commissioners are now accepting public comments on the proposal for the next two weeks. 

Catholic Charities expects a potential vote on the proposal as early as next month.