A Message from Administrator Henry on the Sarasota Federally Qualified Health Center
SARASOTA COUNTY – Sarasota County’s Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) plays an important role in meeting the primary care needs for our residents, especially the uninsured and underinsured. The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County (DOH-Sarasota) operates the FQHC in Sarasota County through a partnership with the Community Health Centers of Sarasota County, Inc. (CHCSC). In anticipation of the expiration of the current grant award in April 2016, DOH-Sarasota started an ongoing community conversation about how best to integrate health services while providing continued access to primary care services for those in greatest need. It is important for our community to know that there will continue to be an FQHC in Sarasota County.
DOH-Sarasota is a committed partner in this discussion, but we have asked that part of the discussion include the realities of DOH-Sarasota continuing in this partnership. While county health departments may have served as ideal providers of primary care in the past, changing dynamics in health care have created an opportunity to reassess the role of the local county health department. DOH-Sarasota must strategically evaluate opportunities for expanded partnerships and greater efficiencies so that the department can focus on population health and core public health services. DOH-Sarasota is the lead agency for public health in our community. Maintaining our focus on population health will make differences in health outcomes possible for entire generations, not just individuals.
The Department is working closely with CHCSC and local partners to evaluate strategies to ensure no interruption in services for the community. Currently, the FQHC serves patients at three locations – William L. Little Health and Human Services Center, Sallie and Sam Shapiro Children’s and Babies Medical Center and North Port Family Service Center. The primary care sites in Sarasota and North Port are open and accepting patients for adult primary care, children’s primary care, women’s health, family planning, children’s dental services and OB services. Primary care in an FQHC setting will remain in place when the current grant ends in 2016. At that time the FQHC grant will transition to a community partner with the capacity to provide these needed services, or the Department will submit another grant application. We appreciate the input from our partners and look forward to ongoing collaboration to ensure our communities have access to all health services.
Chuck Henry is the Administrator for the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County.