Miami-Dade County

Four South Florida health centers awarded thousands in Obamacare funds

Nurse Harriette Wilkins prepares to inject the H1N1 vaccine into 49-year-old Daisy Caban-Martinez at the Cutler Bay Doris Ison Health Center in 2009, a Community Health of South Florida facility.
Nurse Harriette Wilkins prepares to inject the H1N1 vaccine into 49-year-old Daisy Caban-Martinez at the Cutler Bay Doris Ison Health Center in 2009, a Community Health of South Florida facility. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Ten community health-center systems in Florida — including four in South Florida — were awarded a total of $5 million in Affordable Care Act funds Tuesday to build new health-center sites to increase access for about 46,000 Floridians.

The South Florida health centers awarded money to build new sites are Banyan Community Health Center in Miami (awarded $703,602), Borinquen Community Health Center in Miami (awarded $525,000), Citrus Health Network in Hialeah (awarded $391,667) and Community Health of South Florida in Cutler Bay (awarded $487,500.)

Across the state, six other groups in Tampa, Saint Petersburg, Lake Worth, Avon Park, Dade City and Palatka also received awards to create new health centers, joining more than 550 centers that have opened in the four years since the passage of the ACA.

Blake Hall, executive vice president of Community Health of South Florida (CHI), said the money his organization received will go into building a health center in West Kendall. The two-story facility will be completed by the end of the summer at 13540 SW 135th Ave. and feature primary care, gynecological, family medicine, pediatric, dental and behavioral health services.

Health centers generally serve uninsured patients who are charged on a sliding scale depending on income. Hall said the majority of the patients who go to CHI are uninsured, and many in West Kendall have to drive miles to find a location.

This is going to be an amazing resource for the West Kendall community,” Hall said, adding that no other health centers currently exist in the area.

Nationwide, $101 million was awarded to build 164 new health center sites in 33 states, increasing access for about 650,000 patients, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The award comes at a time when the Florida Legislature has refused to approve a plan to expand Medicaid coverage to about 850,000 uninsured Floridians.

Follow @MHhealth for health news from South Florida and around the nation. This story was produced in collaboration with Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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