VERO BEACH ― The Florida Department of Health in Indian River County has announced that, effective Aug. 15, the department will no longer provide primary care or dental services for children or adults. The change is expected to save $2 million annually.
The Gifford Health Center currently provides low-income families and the uninsured with a wide variety of pediatric primary care, charging reduced fees on a sliding scale based on income.
The Indian River County Hospital District has solicited proposals for other entities to take over primary care services at Gifford Health Center starting Oct. 1.
At press time, four proposals had been received and were being reviewed from Healthy Start Coalition, Treasure Coast Community Health, Visiting Nurse Association, and Whole Family Health.
The Hospital District will provide start-up funds of up to $550,000 annually for a three-year lease.
The proposals from Whole Family Health and the VNA were for limited services. The proposal from Whole Family Health Center is for certain services to be provided on-site at the Gifford Health Center, with other services provided at WFHC on 37th Place in Vero Beach.
The Indian River County Healthy Start Coalition provides a system of care for the maternal and child health population. IRCHSC does not provide direct services, instead contracting out to community partners.
Only Treasure Coast Community Health seems willing and able to assume the wide variety of care and services currently offered at Gifford Health Center.
The Dept. of Health said that its We Care program will remain at Gifford Health Center. The We Care program, established in 1991, relies on volunteer active and retired physicians, providing free specialty medical treatment to residents who are financially unable to afford specialty health care.
The Healthy Start program for pre-natal and post-natal care will also remain in Gifford, operated by the Dept. of Health.
The following services will remain at the main health department site at 1900 27th St. in Vero Beach: family planning and birth control; HIV/AIDS primary care and services; communicable disease services; sexually transmitted disease services; immunizations; school health services; WIC program; Office of Vital Statistics (birth and death certificates); environmental health services, and human services.
The Health Department will continue to offer free vaccines for children ages two months through 18 years who qualify for the Centers for Disease Control Vaccines for Children Program. Immunizations are required for children entering kindergarten and seventh grade, as well as high school students entering college.
The Gifford Health Center is located at 4675 28th Ct., Vero Beach. For more information on pediatric services, call (772) 794-7415.
For more information about the We Care Program, call (772) 794-7422.
Members of the Indian River County Hospital District Board of Trustees will attend the Gifford Health Council monthly meeting on Tuesday, June 11 at 5:30 p.m. at the Gifford Health Center conference room, 4675 28th Court, Vero Beach.
For more information from the Hospital District, visit http://irchd.com/.