Helping Hands Clinic receives grant


Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 28, 2008 at 8:34 p.m.

A Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida foundation gave the Helping Hands Clinic of Gainesville a $99,000 grant over three years to expand medical care to the homeless.

The clinic's medical volunteers have provided health care to the homeless and indigent on Monday evenings at First United Methodist Church for 18 years. Plans are to use the grant, the clinic's largest donation ever, to add female medical services, recruit additional health-care volunteers and pay for a part-time volunteer coordinator who also handles program and development evaluations, according to clinic director Randy Stacey.

He said female services such as mammograms and gynecological care would likely be contracted out. The number of female patients has increased over the years and is now at 40 percent, he said.

Plans also call for group educational health meetings.

Nurse practitioners and physicians volunteer two to three hours on Monday nights, and psychiatrists are on hand every other week. The clinic also has an acupuncturist and a chiropractor.

With more volunteers, Stacey said they may either expand Monday hours or add another night. Another option is an additional site.

The clinic had 1,100 visits from 280 people last year, Stacey said. It has received most of its funding from individual donors, churches and organizations.

The City of Gainesville and Alachua County have also provided funding in recent years. The County Agency Partnership helped fund a part-time administrator.

Earlier this month, Stacey's wife, Cynthia Stacey, was honored at a reception with Gov. Crist for receiving a 2006 Point of Light award. Cynthia Stacey is a nurse practitioner at the clinic.

The grant was one of 11 worth a combined $950,000 the Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida awarded to nonprofit organizations that provide health care to the uninsured or underserved.

Anthony Clark can be reached at 352-374-5094 or anthony.clark@gvillesun.com.

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