Osceola Community Health Services wants to have a chat, and an appointment, with those folks.
OCHS is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), meaning it gets funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It collaborates locally with Advent Health Orlando Health the health department through its locations all over the county — Kissimmee, St. Cloud, Poinciana and Buenaventura Lakes.
Belinda Johnson-Cornett, the one-time director of the county’s health department, is its CEO, and provided the County Commission a presentation on its services and what it accomplished for the community the last couple years. She said our area’s problems mimic those of other local areas: lack of affordable specialists, denial of coverage due to pre-existing conditions, and just the overall cost of care, a system that can be hard to navigate, long wait times to get appointments and the lack of transportation to get to them.
As our population increases so does the need for care for the uninsured and under-insured, and those who lack access to health care.
OCHS fills those needs by providing care and services regardless of ability to pay, using sliding fee scale based on patient’s ability to pay to make health care affordable.
“We can prevent some of those chronic diseases we see in the community,” Johnson-Cornett said.
The amount of its subsidized costs went from $1.31 million to $3.63 million from 2018 to 2019. Johnson-Cornett attributed that to an increase in uninsured and extra follow-up visits once chronic diseases are identified. Osceola County has the highest rate of diabetes in the region, and Johnson-Cornett said many people say they can’t afford insulin or diabetic equipment. Osceola also trails behind other counties in preventive care screenings and ongoing care management, meaning chronic diseases can’t be treated early, like obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
That’s the kind of things OCHS does, and it makes the county a healthier place. It saw a rate of investment of 163 percent for every dollar invested. It also has access to the federal 340B Drug Pricing Program, which helped bring the average cost of prescriptions from around $50 to $13.43 for over 10,000 prescriptions in the county.
“We’re able to help them receive medication by providing them at a lower cost,” Johnson-Cornett said. “We’re working to eliminate the emergency room trips for things normally treated in an outpatient clinic.”
OCHS has received national recognition, as a Clinical Quality Improver for showing clinical quality improvement and as the only one of Florida’s 49 FQHC recognized as a Value Enhancer for improving amount of cost-efficient care compared to the national average.
At its website (OsceolaHealthCare.org), OCHS details its many offerings: primary care, routine dental care, labs, x-rays, behavioral health and access to specialists. In 2020, Johnson-Cornett said funding should come for an RV to be used as a mobile clinic.
County Commission Chairwoman Viviana Janer called OCHS’ services “near and dear to my heart.”
” I meet with Belinda regularly to go over needs of our community,” she said. “I’ve been interested in our high rate of diabetes and the lack of services. She’s done a great job of getting a program set. I know there’s a need for a lot more. I have referred at least 50 people to their dental services. I ask each of you to get the word out to our constituency: that there’s an affordable quality place to get care.”
To make an appointment with OCHS, call 407-943-8600.