October 9, 2008

Baptist Donates $100,000 for Community Clinic The Sulzbacher Center Clinic Will Provide Services to the Homeless, Uninsured.

A new Beaches health clinic for uninsured and homeless people got a $100,000 donation Friday, helping its plans to give better medical care to needy people when the clinic opens in January.

Baptist Medical Center-Beaches Administrator Mark Slyter and Baptist Health Vice President of Community Health Michael Lanier presented the donation to the Beaches Community Healthcare Initiative, a community group established in 2005 by members of Christ Episcopal Church in Ponte Vedra Beach.

The donation will support the development and operations of the Beaches Community Healthcare, a Sulzbacher Center Clinic, which will provide medical, dental and mental health services at 850 Sixth Ave. S. in Jacksonville Beach.

The center will operate Monday through Friday with three or four paid employees plus some volunteer doctors. Eventually, the clinic will add weekend and evening hours, officials said. Renovations will begin in a few weeks and the clinic is scheduled to open Jan. 1.

"The Beaches Clinic will provide a substantial benefit to our community by providing access to primary care for the uninsured. Access to primary care can significantly reduce the likelihood that an untreated condition escalates into a life-threatening emergency," Slyter said.

"Unfortunately, we see too many cases in our hospital where care has been delayed and these patients end up needing emergency, surgical, inpatient and other acute services that could have been avoided with proper access to primary care," he said. "We are honored and excited to partner with the Beaches Community Healthcare Initiative and Sulzbacher to improve access to medical care for all Beaches residents, regardless of their ability to pay."

The Sulzbacher Center, an overnight center for homeless people in downtown Jacksonville, received a $1.9 million federal grant this year to start the Beaches clinic. That grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will provide $650,000 a year for the next three years.

The Beaches Community Healthcare Initiative, a nonprofit partner with Sulzbacher, will oversee the grant, hospital's contribution and other donations. That initiative is comprised of BEAM, or Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry, Baptist-Beaches and Christ Episcopal Church.

"This clinic is such a blessing to our Beaches community and the need for it is enormous," said Cindy Funkhouser, the Sulzbacher Center vice president of health services and BEAM's former executive director. "Through the wide range of services we will offer, we will impact hundreds of people in need of medical services each year."

The clinic will accommodate up to nine exam rooms, four offices, a waiting room/reception area and a conference room in the Community Services Center building, where BEAM is housed.

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