From Solving A Community Need to Serving the Entire Community: Suncoast Community Health Centers, Inc.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Bradley Herremans, CEO of Suncoast Community Health Centers, and Amy Nizamoff, Public Relations Manager. They told me the story of this incredible organization that got its start in Ruskin.
The story starts in 1977 when a few local residents saw a need: the migrant farm community in Ruskin lacked health care services. Inspired to find a solution, these concerned residents gathered the resources to form a not-for-profit organization and the Suncoast Community Health Center came to be.
It was a humble beginning, with just a trailer, two medical care providers and a lean administrative staff, but it helped and Suncoast Community Health Centers expanded quickly.
Today, it’s a formidable not-for-profit health service organization with 420 employees, nine clinics and two mobile health care units serving not just Ruskin, but the entire South Shore community and beyond. They have facilities in Wimauma, Ruskin, Brandon, Tampa, Plant City, Lakeland and Dover. And, another center coming soon in Thonotosassa.
Serving the Entire Community
Many of Suncoast Community Health’s clients are from the migrant community and the centers operate on a sliding pay scale, based on one’s income and ability to pay.
“We are open to the entire community,” Bradley says, “and people who are not in need also come here.”
And, for good reason. Suncoast Health Centers may have started humbly in a trailer, but they’ve moved on up. Today, they have state-of-the-art facilities that rival the best.
State of the Art Facilities
In March of 2016, Suncoast Health Centers opened its newest Brandon Community Health Center, which includes the Pediatric Center of Excellence.
From the moment you walk in to this 32,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility you know you’re some place special. While this Brandon facility includes adult and family medicine, it’s the pediatric facilities that are the real show stopper.
Parents can bring their children here to receive medical, dental, behavioral health and optometry care – all in one place, in one day. By having multiple pediatric services centralized in one place, children receive exceptional care that they may otherwise not have had access to.
The concept behind a one-stop facility like the Brandon Community Health Center, is ‘integrated care’, a concept which brings as many health services together in one place.
The benefits are huge. Healthcare professionals can work together on holistic care for a patient. For example, if a child comes to the center with pain and the pain happens to be coming from a tooth, the physician can send the child directly to the pediatric dentist.
Adults also benefit from the integrated program. One visit to the Brandon Community Health Center and adults, if needed, can see a doctor, get lab tests and x-rays and visit the pharmacy. Again, all in one place.
The integrated care / one-stop shop also means more people can receive health care.
“Many of our clients have transportation issues,” Bradley says. “They may not be in a position to make multiple stops to multiple healthcare facilities. Once a family comes here, they can get all of their health care needs met.”
Other Suncoast Community Health Center integrated, one-stop shop facilities: Palm River Community Health Center in Tampa, Plant City Family Care, Ruskin Community Health Center and Tom Lee Community Health Center in Dover. The original Ruskin Community Health Center includes most integrated services, but does not have obstetrics, dental services, a pharmacy or insurance assistance.
State of the Art Services
Suncoast Health is committed to being as modern, efficient and accessible as possible.
From state of the art medical programs, such as Hillsborough County’s first pediatric dental residency program to pilot transportation programs with Uber and Lyft to multiple outreach programs that bring healthcare to students in school, Suncoast Health is continually upgrading its services.
The pediatric dental residency program, one of the largest in the nation, is a partnership with NYU Langone, Advanced Education in Pediatric Dentistry. Eight pediatric dental residents, supervised by three full-time attending pediatric dentists, manage the Brandon Community Health Center’s pediatric dental facility, which sees 90-100 children per day.
Suncoast Community Health Centers is currently piloting programs with Uber and Lyft. Clients can get a ride to the health center and back using one of these providers. They simply book through the center’s administration. The total cost, covered by Suncoast Health, is $14.00. The costs can be much greater if the patient is unable to visit the clinic at all due to transportation limitations.
Suncoast Community Health Centers manages several community outreach programs, too, going directly into schools to provide dental (tooth sealant program) and optometry care (vision testing).
Committed to Improving the Health of Our Community
Suncoast Community Health Centers has not changed its original vision or mission from its humble beginnings in 1977. It’s simply grown with our community.
We can be proud to have such an amazing organization in our area. Local residents saw a need almost 40 years ago and they did something about it. The fact that Suncoast Community Health Centers has continued to expand to match our community’s growth reflects the ongoing giving nature of our residents and their willingness to provide solutions where there is a need.
For more information on Suncoast Community Health Centers, locations, services, or to make a donation: Suncoast Community Health Centers.