In its first year, Dunbar House has become a destination for low income, chronically ill and underserved residents of east Lee County.
“I’ve seen a lot of growth. As far as ‘no show’ rate, it used to be very high; now I’m seeing most patients. ‘No show’ rate is down to about 20 percent,” says Dr. Sindy Bernot, a physician with Lee Memorial Health System.
Part of Lee Physician Group, the medical practice helps a slice of the community which often falls through the cracks. People like Estrella Vargas, who had few options for care, but much need for it.
“I’m a heavy smoker, I’m on an asthma pump,” says Vargas, a patient at the Lee Physician Group Dunbar United Way House.
When the medical practice opened in her neighborhood, it took away a big obstacle: transportation. Estrella couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
“Because the doctor is closer. It’s not like I have to take two or three buses to get to my doctor,” says Vargas.
The American Medical Association found minorities are less likely to get routine medical care while having higher rates of chronic diseases. The same study showed neighborhood practices are making a difference.
“I have seen a lot of trends, a lot of chronic issues such as hypertension, diabetes, COPD. We have had patients with osteoarthritis, heart disease. My schedule is booked the next couple of months,” says Dr. Bernot.
Medical care is made easy here. When you take away transportation issues, financial barriers even cultural divides, people are more likely to take charge of their health.
“A lot of the patients we serve are uninsured so people are taking this opportunity to get back on track with their health. Unfortunately, a lot of them have lost their jobs and don’t qualify like they used to with their chronic issues and we are here to help,” says Dr. Bernot.
With a sliding scale, based on ability to pay, Dunbar House is offering a healthy option. One this community can’t afford to ignore.