South Florida Hospital News
Saturday October 21, 2017
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January 2016 - Volume 12 - Issue 7

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Why Boca Raton Needs a Health Center Dedicated to Serving Its Underserved

In December, a new medical center opened in downtown Boca Raton to serve a population that exists largely underserved. Genesis Community Health, working in partnership with Boca Helping Hands, begin accepting patients at 30 SE 6th Street, in an effort to break the cycle of poverty for the city’s approximately 34,752 low-income residents.

 
For James Gavrilos, executive director of Boca Helping Hands, and DeAnna Warren, CEO of Genesis Community Health, reaching this uninsured and underinsured population with healthcare services cannot come too soon. Both nonprofit leaders see an opportunity to address a deficiency in medical care for the working poor, who often cannot escape poverty due, in large part, to an inability to overcome debilitating health issues.
 
“During the almost two decades we’ve spent serving the working poor, we can identify three things that absolutely trap a family in crippling poverty – poor education, lack of job training, and health and wellness issues,” said Gavrilos, whose organization is helping Genesis become established in Boca Raton and is acting as a resource for patient referrals.
 
“We have worked with multiple partners, such as Ruth and Norman Rales Jewish Family Center and Wayne Barton Study Center, to address education and job training. Now, with Genesis, we see a chance to provide access to medical care and to use the partnership as springboard for community outreach to address chronic and ongoing issues, such as diabetes management, smoking cessation, healthy habits and exercise.”
 
Even within the relatively wealthy confines of Boca Raton, these residents struggle with obtaining routine healthcare because of lack of insurance and/or lack of access – both of which are inextricably tied to low wages.
 
Although the overall economy shows a rise in wages, these figures are generally skewed by the fact that low-wage workers are often working longer hours and/ or multiple jobs – also obstacles to obtaining healthcare, Warren said. She attributes the growing gap between rich and poor to a reduction in the number of unionized workers, a lack of adjustments in the minimum wage with inflation, a decrease in the number of manufacturing jobs, an increase in the number of service-sector jobs, globalization and a disproportionate increase in temporary and part-time employment compared with full-time employment.
 
While designed to address the needs of the working poor, Genesis is open to anyone who doesn’t have a healthcare home, Warren stresses. The center accepts private insurance, Medicaid and Medicare to welcome patients from all socioeconomic levels.
 
“At our new site, our services will include eligibility for Medicaid, assistance with enrollment for healthcare coverage through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace, primary care and family practice for all ages,” said Warren. “We want everyone to consider us.”
 
Gavrilos and Warren welcome the Boca Raton community to get involved with Genesis, either through making referrals, volunteering or by giving monetary donations to help their patients afford co-pays and diagnostic and lab services.
 
“Any and all donations matter,” said Warren. “One of our patients gave us $10 to help another patient.”

 For more information, call (561) 430-3629 or visit www.gencomhealth.org.

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