The announced overhaul of medical services at the Wewahitchka Gulf Department Health Clinic begins July 1.


The announced overhaul of medical services at the Wewahitchka Gulf Department Health Clinic begins July 1.



The last day the Florida Department of Health will provide primary care medical services at the clinic, located on State 22, will be June 30, a Sunday.



As of the following day, the medical clinic will be closed for approximately two weeks.



Roger Hall, president of Sacred Heart Hospital on the Gulf, told the Board of County Commissioners last week that he expects Sacred Heart will restart primary care services sometime in mid-July.



“We are actually going to expand the services from what they are now,” Hall told commissioners. “We should be back up and running by mid-July; as soon as we can get our people in there.”



Primary care services include acute and chronic illness visits, well-child and sick visits for children, Behavioral Health and lab collections for Health Department patients.



The Florida Department of Health for Gulf County will continue to provide public health services through the transition.



Dental services for adults and children, environmental health, Healthy Start, School Health and Tobacco Cessation and Prevention programs will continue during the transition.



WIC will continue to have a presence the first and third Friday of each month and immunizations will also be done those two days. Family planning services will continue to be offered the first Tuesday of each month.



Birth certificates will continue to be provided.



“I have advocated that there be no interruption of services to the north end of the county,” said Marsha Lindeman, executive director of the Gulf County Health Department. “Services are being increased for primary care by the provider most able to provide those services.”



Lindeman’s bottom line for primary care services has bled $500,000 over recent years due to budget cuts to primary care services by the Florida Department of Health.



Compounding the problem is that the Wewahitchka clinic has been without a physician for two years, with the resultant in fees and, she said last week, an inherited budget which funded services with dollars she wasn’t going to be able to ledger anymore.



With the Federally Qualified Health Clinic (FQHC) operating under the umbrella of the Gulf County Health Department, Lindeman can leverage federal funds to provide dental care on both ends of the county and primary care in Port St. Joe.



Over 50 percent of those seen under the FQHC are uninsured, she noted.



The she said the county pays a smaller percentage to the Health Department budget than any other county in the state with an operating FQHC.



The only area she could cut, she told the BOCC last week, was primary care in Wewahitchka.



But, the positive was the long-standing partnership between Health Department and Sacred Heart which stretches back to before Sacred Heart Hospital on the Gulf opened more than three years ago.



Sacred Heart Hospital on the Gulf will operate a health clinic from the same health department facility currently in use for primary care services.



“I felt this was the optimal plan for providing primary care services,” Lindeman said.



Medical Records Release forms are available now at the Gulf County Health Department for patients transitioning from the health department to Sacred Heart Hospital on the Gulf for Primary Care Services.



For more information please contact the Gulf County Health Department at 227-1276, ext. 205.