From July 31 through August 10, Shepherd's Hope, in partnership with Nemours Children's Health System, hosted clinics on six dates for 18 hours with 40 clinicians providing 445 local uninsured and underinsured children free back-to-school physicals, an increase of 30% over the number provided in 2016 and an all-time high for the annual initiative.
Over the past four years, Shepherd's Hope has provided back-to-school physicals for more than 765 children. This annual initiative assists families whose children need general health assessments and sports physicals (minus immunizations) as well as vision and hearing screenings with a Nemours specialist at select locations. In addition, mammogram screenings were available for women accompanying their children at the Longwood Shepherd's Hope Health Center location in conjunction with the Florida Hospital for Women Mobile Wellness Coach. The Harvey and Carol Massey Foundation helped to sponsor the initiative, which enabled the purchase of critical pediatric medical supplies.
"The record-breaking participation, combined with the fact that fifteen percent of the 445 children who received a back to school physical were referred for additional specialty care services, reinforce that the need for this initiative is both essential and increasing," said Marni Stahlman, president and CEO of Shepherd's Hope. "Our ability to deliver these critical resources to uninsured children and their families is only possible because of our partnerships with Nemours." The health system has supported Shepherd's Hope's annual back-to-school physicals initiative since it launched in 2014.
Back-to- school physicals are a summertime ritual for school-aged children and their families. But, for the estimated 27,000 children in Central Florida who are uninsured, this annual rite of passage can be out of reach.
"We are honored to be part of a program that offers so many families the ability to start the school year off right," said Dr. Al Torres, Chief of Critical Care at Nemours Children's Hospital. "As a pediatric health system that is focused solely on children, we understand the importance of creating healthy habits early on in life."
Shepherd's Hope provides free primary and secondary medical services to the 1-in-4 Central Floridians who are uninsured or underinsured, including children, at five health center locations in Central Florida. An estimated 850,000 Floridians remain in a gray area ─ in the coverage "gap" in regards to insurance availability ─ earning too much to qualify for some programs, but not enough to afford products offered on the Healthcare.gov exchange, even with federal subsidies, because of out-of-reach deductibles and co-payments.