Free health clinic, Volunteers in Medicine, in Jacksonville looks to expand services

Free health clinic in Jacksonville looks to expand services

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — If you have insurance, access to health care is something you might take for granted.

However, not everyone in Northeast Florida can afford to get medical help.

That's where Volunteers in Medicine steps in.

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It's a free health clinic for the low-income workers and the uninsured.

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The program provides health care to more than 1,700 people who work at least 20 hours and make $13,000 to 250% of the poverty level, which is $31,225 for one person.

CEO Jennifer Ryan said without the program, the patients would have gone to a hospital emergency room for treatment.

"Just one visit alone can be $1,800," Ryan said. "If a person, a patient can't pay for it, someone else is going to be paying for that. Whether it's the organization, taxpayers, or insurance."

Currently, the program operates under one roof in downtown Jacksonville.

Volunteers in Medicine is asking the City of Jacksonville for nearly $98,000 to help expand services to zip code 32210, or the Westside, where most of the patients come from.

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"There's a lot going on in 32210. It is the highest emergency room utilization. People in that ZIP code are using ERs the most. It also sees the highest infant mortality which tells us about the health of the community as well as hypertension and diabetes," Ryan said.

The other top zip codes the program serves are 32209 and 32208.

Ryan said if the program receives the funding, they would open up a clinic inside the Inspire to Rise, Inc. campus on Old Timuquana Road.

The clinic would operate twice a week.

Ryan said it would help them reach hundreds of more patients.

"I think it will benefit our community," Ryan said. "I think we all want to be healthy. We want our neighbors to be healthy."