Health care in Hernando County

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Free and discounted primary health services are available.

In these difficult economic times, it is heartening to realize that there is help available to those in need.

The residents of Hernando County and surrounding areas can receive free or discounted services, including medical and mental health care, through a variety of resources.

Maureen Soliman, a member of the Hernando County Medical Society Alliance, Community Resource Council of Hernando, and community liaison for the Crescent Community Clinic which serves the uninsured and indigent of Hernando County advises, “Individuals should contact various organizations for either direct care or referrals to discounted or free services.”

These organizations include Mid-Florida Community Services, Inc., especially for senior citizens, New Beginnings Youth Center for children, and the Hernando County Health Department which provides services on a sliding scale and for those with Medicaid.

The Nature Coast Community Health Center (NCCHC) is a collaborative project with the Hernando County Health Department which operates from three sites throughout the county and provides primary, dental, behavioral health and pharmaceutical services to area residents.

Another resource is Hernando County’s Health and Human Services which provides resources and assistance. They include health services, transportation, and temporary financial assistance for emergency prescriptions, electric bills, elderly services, food, shelter, child care, and counseling for needy, abused, and disabled populations.

Patty Lima, the president of the Community Resource Council of Hernando explained, “Our organization assists with funding and charitable volunteer work, and promotes networking and resource development.”

Among other activities, the group has raised funds for senior related programs, including the Enrichment Centers of Hernando County and Senior Rx programs which help seniors pay for their medications, Lima added.

Individuals and seniors statewide who are unable to afford their prescriptions can also get assistance through the Partnership for Prescription Assistance Florida. They provide information about getting prescription assistance for low-income individuals, and with the costs of prescriptions, healthcare, and even utilities for people aged 55 and older.

All Florida residents can get help affording their prescriptions by utilizing the Florida Discount Drug Card which was designed to lower the cost of prescriptions for Florida residents regardless of age or income. Additional savings and assistance are available for seniors and those who meet income requirements.

Hernando County’s Drug Prescription Discount Card is available through a joint agreement between Hernando County Government, the National Association of Counties (NACo) and Caremark, Inc. for prescription drug discounts on medications not covered by health insurance. The cards are free and available at participating pharmacies, Hernando County of Health Department, County Library Branches, and Health & Human Services.

Gautam Thakkar, pharmacist and general manager of the Pinebrook Pharmacy in Brooksville said, “Our customers can have their prescriptions delivered free of charge throughout Hernando, Pasco, Citrus, and Hillsborough Counties.”

“We also provide free in-store blood glucose and blood pressure monitoring, generic prescriptions for $3.00, and free bubble packaging for individuals, especially the elderly, who are taking numerous prescription medications throughout the day,” Thakkar added. “Prescriptions are organized and numbered so that loved ones can also ensure that the prescriptions are being taken regularly as prescribed.”

Hernando County residents also have available to them the local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). The Beautiful Mind Center provides support groups, psycho-educational classes, and various social activities for individuals and families affected by mental illness.

Local seniors and disabled individuals can also take advantage of Trans-Hernando which provides transportation services to seniors over 60 years of age, Medicaid recipients, physically and mentally challenged and the general public who cannot drive themselves.

Residents of Hernando County and surrounding areas can also obtain support and services through the Florida Gulf Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, and the Alzheimer’s Family Organization which provide educational programs, wanderer’s identification, support groups, respite assistance, and emergency placement, and advocacy.

For more info

For more information from local health care service providers, contact:

Alzheimer’s Family Organization 888-496-8004, www.alzheimersfamily.org/

Advanced Healthcare Alternatives 727-849-2277, www.advhealthcarealternatives.com/

Crescent Community Clinic 352-799-5500, www.crescentclinic.org/

Florida Discount Drug Card 866-341-8894 or 866-341-8894, www.floridadiscountdrugcard.com/

The Florida Gulf Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association 352-796-1767, www.alz.org/flgulfcoast/

Hernando County Health Department 352-540-6800, www.hernandohealth.org/

Hernando County Health and Human Services 352-540-4338, www.hernandocounty.us/healthandhumanservices/

Mid-Florida Services 352-796-1425, www.mfcs.us.com/2010/

NAMI-Hernando’s Beautiful Mind Center 352-684-0004, www.namihernando.org

Partnership for Prescription Assistance Florida 888-477-2669, www.pparxfl.org/

Pinebrook Pharmacy 352-610-4347, www.pinebrookpharmacy.com/

Tobacco Free Florida, www.tobaccofreeflorida.org

Trans-Hernando, 352-799-1510

United Way of Hernando County, 352-688-2026, www.unitedwayhernando.net/

Dr. Lou LaPorta is a licensed psychologist in Spring Hill who writes regularly for Hernando Today. He can be e-mailed at dr.loulaporta@gmail.com.

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