Charting the next 45 years serving the community
Ribbon Cutting for the new Pediatric Convenient Care
In 2022, Healthcare Network, the only Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in Collier County, celebrated 45 years of serving the community, regrouped from pandemic operations, and welcomed a new CEO.
The organization provides primary medical care as well as dental care and integrated behavioral health for both adults and children, regardless of their financial status. Outside their physical locations, Healthcare Network’s community health workers provide health and social services directly to underserved families.
“There are many great things that attracted me to Healthcare Network—the progressive board of directors, the positive company culture, and the uniquely altruistic community of Collier County to name a few,” said Jamie Ulmer, who became Healthcare Network’s CEO in July after serving as CEO of Heart of Florida, a FQHC in Marion County. “One of the key elements that led me here was the opportunity to impact services and access by closing gaps in care to benefit the entire community.”
With a background in the military, Ulmer believes that strategic plans, as well as swift implementation, are critical in healthcare, particularly in handling crisis such as the pandemic and Hurricane Ian, which required quick action, coordination, and creative thinking.
Since his arrival, Healthcare Network implemented Medical Assisted Treatment (MAT) for substance abuse disorders, which includes the use of medication and counseling to provide whole patient care. “Our Health Center leads the state in behavioral health counseling, and by offering MAT we can now help those struggling with addiction while improving public health,” Ulmer said.
In addition, Healthcare Network has opened pediatric Convenient Care (with adult Convenient Care to be added) at the Nichols Community Health Center, which now sees 40 patients a day. Also, laboratory and X-ray services have been added at this location.
Created out of a need to reach the underserved community during the pandemic, the multilingual COVID-19 Response team was expanded in size and scope to form the new Community Outreach Team. Now in addition to COVID they also address conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and heart disease with door-to-door visits, health fairs and education events.
“We serve nearly 50% of Collier County’s children; and more than one-third of soon-to-be moms are our patients,” Ulmer said. “With the amount of growth in our community, we need to be available to more people in more locations, particularly where healthcare services and access are limited like Ave Maria and Everglades City.”
In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, the Community Outreach Team went to remote, underserved areas to provide tetanus vaccines, medical assistance, mental health support, and water and other supplies to those in need. Also, Healthcare Network’s pediatric providers assisted with newborn screening at NCH Healthcare System’s The Birth Place during a high-volume period after the hurricane.
Looking ahead, the organization’s strategic plan will continue to focus on expanding and improving access to care with more hubs throughout Collier County, where patients can come to one place for all their health needs.
“We provide services for all, no matter their financial situation, and we also speak and provide a voice for the disenfranchised,” Ulmer said. “The care and facilities of our Health Centers really cannot be distinguished from larger corporate health centers, and we have all the certifications and accreditations. I believe the Community Health Center model is a tremendous system that could provide health care to all Americans.”
To do so, Healthcare Network hopes to engage more of the community in support of its mission to create a healthier community for the benefit of all. To learn more, visit healthcareswfl.org.