TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Health Care Leaders in Leon County say staffing up to fight COVID and making sure their facilities have room for social distancing will be top priorities when they receive new federal funding.
U.S. Rep. Al Lawson (FL-05) announced that six North Florida Community Health Centers will receive a total of $21,152,500 million in American Rescue Plan funds to expand their COVID-19 vaccination and treatment operations on Wednesday.
The funds are part of the American Rescue Plan’s $6 billion investment to expand access to vaccines in underserved communities.
“The pandemic has hit Floridians hard, and this crucial funding to our local health centers will help families across Florida’s fifth district,” Rep. Lawson said. “The centers can use the funding to expand COVID-19 vaccinations, testing and treatment for vulnerable populations, as well as deliver preventive and primary health care services to people at higher risk for COVID-19. More help is on the way as we work to get more shots in arms and save more lives.”
Neighborhood Medical Center is one of four Tallahassee locations receiving a share of more than $21.1 million dollars from American Rescue Plan funds. Chief Executive Officer Jeanne Freeman said they'll use part of the money they're receiving to be able to welcome as many people into their offices as possible as more vaccines become available.
"We want to make sure that our facilities can keep up with the current needs that we have," said Freeman. "We are experiencing a surge of patients so with social distancing and making sure that we protect the people that were taking care of."
Bond Community Health Center will also receive $2,672,000. CEO Dr. Temple Robinson said they'll focus on staffing.
"We have stepped up to do testing and vaccines and of course that means we have drained our core staff," said Robinson. "We are working at sometimes half of the staff capacity that we really need."
If approved, they also look forward to additional community outreach.
"So it may be that we will go into communities, we may go door to door, we may do some mobile access," Robinson said.
Both Robinson and Freeman, agreeing the funds are just in time to keep up with the rising demand for vaccines.
"Monday is presenting an entirely different story now that everyone 18 and up, or 16 if you talking about Pfizer, will be eligible for a vaccine.," said Freeman. "So we're anticipating a huge surge in vaccine interest starting Monday."
The funds are to be used over the course of the next two years.
Federal community health centers receiving funds in Florida’s 5th district:
- Agape Community Health Center (Jacksonville) — $2,456,125
- I.M. Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless, Inc. (Jacksonville) — $2,904,375
- Bond Community Health Center (Tallahassee) — $2,672,000
- Florida Department of Health (Tallahassee) — $3,674,500
- Neighborhood Medical Center (Tallahassee) — $4,355,000
- North Florida Medical Center (Tallahassee) — $5,087,500
The American Rescue Plan supports 47 health centers in Florida, totaling $368,104,250.