| Katie Camario

Free Medical Clinics at Catholic Charities Serve the Uninsured

Having access to general healthcare for the family can be challenging for many people, especially low-income citizens in the Tampa Bay area. Often, those who can’t afford to pay for medical care, go without lifesaving treatment. Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Petersburg is changing that outcome for those in need, by providing free medical services. In a new interview with Karen Pena, Clinic Administrator for Catholic Charities Free Medical Clinics, we learn about the lifesaving services that are offered and the volunteer opportunities available for those who can help.

What is the mission of the free medical clinics?

Our mission is to provide free, basic health care needs to our underserved population and in the community. We serve anyone who does not have insurance or any other program that could allow them to have some type of insurance.

Who can qualify for the free services?

Any patient whose household income is below 200% of the Federal poverty level can qualify. Those who have no insurance or are not covered by any other program, are able to come into our clinics and get the services that they need.

How many clinics does Catholic Charities operate?

We operate three clinics, two in Hillsborough County and one in Pasco County. In Hillsborough, we have San Jose mission, located at 13571 San Juan Diego Way in Dover, Florida, and La Esperanza Clinic, at 16640 S US Hwy 301, Suite 1, in Wimauma. In Pasco, we operate St. Andre Clinic located at 37733 Meridian Ave., in Dade City.

What kind of medical services are provided?

Just like your typical primary doctor clinic, we provide basic medical screenings, diagnostics, and treatment of illnesses. It’s a huge blessing for them to have our clinics that they can come to and have the care that they're needing.

With the cost of living rising, has there been an increase in clients who need services?

Yes, there has been. I can tell you we're getting patients from all different zip codes. It's been huge because you see them coming out from even the Orlando area to our Dade City location. Some from Polk County come into Pasco County just to be served because they've heard about our services through friends or family who have come to our clinic. Just in this quarter alone, we had over 150 new patients that have come to our clinics. It's a significant increase.

The clinics rely heavily on volunteers, what kind of volunteer slots are you most in need of?

We need translators who can translate for our population that is mainly Hispanic. We also need professional volunteers. We need any type of professional doctor. We would like to get enough to where we can alternate these doctors and they're not having to come in as often. They have normal day jobs that they are attending and then they come to our clinics in the evening just to help. We are also in desperate need of volunteers who can do general office duties in the clinics.

How does someone get in touch with you regarding medical services or volunteer opportunities?

They can call me at 813-633-2576 or they can email me at kpena@ccdosp.org.

If someone needs assistance, they can reach me the same way.

For more information on the Catholic Charities Free Medical Clinic visit: https://www.ccdosp.org/catholic-charities-free-medical-clinics/

Individual donations to the Catholic Ministry Appeal make Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Petersburg possible, serving thousands each year.