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North Fort Myers United Way House: October 18, 2011

With money in short supply, Sharon Scott has to make choices. What may be her best decision was coming to the North Fort Myers United Way House.

“They’ve taken care of everything - they did blood work the first time I came and my cholesterol was high so they got me back in right away to try to get that under control.”

This is the second community-based medical practice recently opened by Lee Memorial Health System.

“The patients seen at Dunbar are referred here for their x-rays; we’re trying to keep everything in house and all in one place,” says Cie Mora, Operations Manager for the North Fort Myers United Way House.

The North Fort Myers United Way House is part of the Lee Physician Group. Different from a walk-in clinic, it’s a medical office where people can form ongoing relationships with health care professionals.

“We really want to become that medical home base for individuals that need help in managing their chronic illnesses,” says Mora.

A goal of this practice is to provide services to people with little or no insurance. Working with them on cost here, cuts down on emergency room visits.

“We’re finding that people who are not well versed in what’s going on with their health end up in the emergency room unnecessarily when we could’ve prevented perhaps that visit,” says Mora.

A $1.5 million federal grant helps the office offer a sliding fee, based on a patient’s ability to pay.

“We’re finding that people have been without health care for five years if not longer because they can’t afford the care and so we really want to stop that cycle,” says Mora.

It’s allowing people like Sharon to take charge of their health.

“Yeah, because I couldn’t afford to go to the doctor anymore. I couldn’t afford to buy my prescriptions and they’re helping me out with all that.”