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Your Community Partner in Healthcare

How Community Health Centers, Inc. is responding to the COVID-19 crisis in Central Florida. 

Community Health Centers, Inc. is one of our region’s largest not-for-profit providers of health and wellness services, caring for nearly 70,000 patients annually and contributing $87.9 million in economic impact on our region. 

As a Federally Qualified Health Center, CHC is a community-driven organization dedicated to serving patients and their families locally, in the neighborhoods that they live and trust. Their mission is to provide quality and compassionate primary healthcare services to Central Florida’s diverse communities, and do so in a way that consistently overcomes economic, cultural and geographic barriers.

Their strength is in their constant focus on being a community partner that cares for the whole person. They view patients as individuals who deserve specialized care. Each patient has unique needs, and they strive to develop programs that meet these needs while exceeding the expectations of those receiving care.

Programs such as pediatrics, family medicine, internal medicine, dental, optometry, behavioral health, OB/GYN, pharmacy, and laboratory services have been designed to meet a significant need for their patients, as many are managing chronic, life-long conditions such as diabetes. All care is centralized utilizing electronic healthcare records that are accessible to providers and specialists as they connect to provide services necessary for patient care and treatment. Primary healthcare services are offered to insured, uninsured, underinsured and underserved adults and children within Central Florida. 

CHC works with a whole team approach that encompasses the front desk, nurses, doctors and lab team to the leadership team and board of directors. Each team member plays a key role to keep patients safe and healthy throughout the COVID-19 crisis.  

During this time, CHC has continued to deliver quality care for patients with no disruption to hours of operation. A recent $100,000 grant from the Siemens Foundation assisted with their response by helping to secure additional proper personal protective equipment needed for clinic staff to see patients and test patients (if indicated) for COVID-19. 

“We rely on each other in healthcare just as you do in a family,” President and CEO Debra Andree says. “I wish a speedy recovery to those affected with illness and I send my condolences to the family and loved ones of those who have died due to COVID-19. I also recognize the hardships this Pandemic has placed upon people across the globe. As I review the “numbers” of positive tests and “numbers” of deaths, I am mindful there are mothers and fathers, sons and daughter, brothers and sisters, friends and colleagues that are faces behind the “numbers”. Our work, your work, is important in this long fight against COVID-19.”

How to See a Doctor From Home

To better protect patients and staff, Community Health Centers is offering telemedicine appointments for a variety of healthcare needs. 

What happens during a telemedicine appointment is very similar to what would happen in person. Patients have a scheduled appointment time where they will receive a text message or email link that takes them to a check-in lobby. When the physician is ready to see a patient, both parties are connected via videoconference so they can see each other. This visit is accessible from a desktop computer, tablet or smartphone that has a camera and microphone. No app or download is required.

Below are some frequently asked questions about the telemedicine process. Why should I use telemedicine? Not only is it convenient and easy to use, but telemedicine requires less time in a waiting room, no transportation time or cost, and expanded access to care via real-time video/audio visits with a medical provider. 

Do I need to sign up for an account? No, you don’t need to create an account, but you will need to review the CHC Telemedicine Consent Form. New patients, or individuals that haven’t been seen within the last three years, will be required to complete the Patient Intake Form at www.chcfl.org. 

Is it secure, safe and private? All data is encrypted and secure, using advanced 128-bit keys to ensure a private visit. 

How do I get better audio or video? Using headphones and connecting to Wi-Fi can improve connection problems you may be having.

Coronavirus Testing is Available

Community Health Centers is offering COVID-19 drive-up testing. 

Testing is available to symptomatic patients who are experiencing shortness of breath, fever, body aches and/or cough. Appointments are required for testing, which will be provided on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and it is open to new and existing patients.  Testing takes place in the dental parking lot located at 210 E. 7th Street in Apopka.

There is no cost for the COVID-19 test; however, depending on health insurance, a medical visit fee may be applicable. Patients may also qualify for CHC’s sliding discount program, based on family size and income.

In the coming weeks, CHC expects to have antibody tests available for Central Floridians as well. Anyone interested is encouraged to follow CHC on social media for further updates. 

There for You for Dental Emergencies

As dental offices were directed to close for regular business due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Community Health Centers transitioned its offerings to allow for immediate appointments for patients experiencing dental emergencies or in need of urgent dental care. Dental emergencies are dictated by three criteria: pain, infection/swelling and trauma.

The availability of these services diverted patients from Central Florida hospital emergency departments. President and CEO Debbie Andree says the efforts helped to take some of the burden out of emergency rooms and free up space for patients needing other emergency care.

CHC has averaged approximately 350 urgent and emergent visits weekly since it announced these services. As of press time, over 1,000 emergencies were diverted from hospitals. 

“Since March 23, we have seen nearly 2,000 urgent or emergent dental individuals, and of those, almost half of them were truly very, very bad emergencies,” Community Health Centers’ Chief Dental Officer Gregg Stewart, DMD says. “Had we not been here, they most likely would have ended up in the ER. We’re working with our community partners to take care of this urgent need during this time.”

Appointments for dental emergencies are available at the following locations: Apopka, Winter Garden, Forest City, Meadow Woods, Pine Hills, Lake Ellenor, Tavares, Leesburg, and Groveland. Team members provide evaluation and treatment of dental infection, swelling and/or pain in patients of all ages.  

Community Health Centers, Inc. operates facilities in Apopka, Bithlo, Clermont, Forest City, Groveland, Lake Ellenor, Leesburg, Meadow Woods, Pine Hills, Tavares and Winter Garden. 

To schedule a telemedicine appointment, an urgent care or emergency dental visit, or a COVID-19 drive-up testing appointment, call 407-905-8827. 

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Written by Lyndsay Fogarty

Lyndsay Fogarty has had many roles at Central Florida Lifestyle, working her way from intern to contributing writer to managing editor. She is a graduate of the University of Central Florida’s Nicholson School of Communication where she earned her degree in journalism. Along the way, she has learned that teamwork and dedication to your craft will get you far, and a positive outlook on the present will get you even farther.

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