Have a Heart Gala to support free clinic for indigent care

Event will raise funds for the continued efforts of Parkview Medical Center

FOR A FORTUNATE FEW, time is of little consequence. For the rest of us, time is a luxury that we can rarely indulge in. In Haines City, however, a dedicate group of staff and volunteers are working to give more time and — more importantly — medical treatment to those in need of quality health care.

Parkview Medical Center is hosting its second Have a Heart Gala at the Lake Eva Banquet Hall on Saturday, February 13, 2016. Parkview Medical Center provides indigent healthcare services to Haines City residents who are uninsured and living in poverty. Tickets for the Gala are $100; the price of the ticket allows guests to enjoy dinner and a live band, as well as raffles and an auction at the gala.

Parkview Medical Center is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, and all proceeds from the benefit will assist in providing healthcare to the people of Haines City who would not otherwise be able to afford treatment. The majority of patients that Parkview Medical Center treats are seen for diabetes, thyroid issues, hypertension, and hyperglycemia, but the center also offers free school physicals in the fall to students and will perform STD testing.

All patients at Parkview Medical Center must meet the federal guidelines of poverty and not be currently enrolled in any health insurance program. Most people who fall into these categories are members of minority communities.

Pastor Henry Babers, the pastor at Parkview Christian Center, and nurse practitioner Juanetta Thompson, a member of Parkview Christian Center, both wanted to help their community and joined forces about ten years ago, which would eventually bring Parkview Medical Center into fruition.

Juanetta Thompson began by treating people two Saturdays a month at the Christian center. Dr. Beverly Brown of Florida Southern College was not a member of the church at the time, but she recognized the need in the Haines City area and shared Thompson’s and Babers’ dream of helping that community, one patient at a time. It was their shared desire to help alleviate this disparity that brought the founders of this project together. Thompson states that “healthcare is the right of everybody, not just the privileged. I’m doing my best. It might be small, but I am doing the right thing.”

Currently, Dr. Michael Degnan serves as medical director at the clinic. Each year since 2009, Dr. Degnan, the nurses, and staff at Parkview Medical Center care for thousands of people. In the year 2015, Parkview saw 2,000 patients — more than 500 of which were new patients. Their patient base grows every year and, thus, so do the clinic’s needs. The staff and volunteers alike feel it is gratifying to be able to help more patients every year, and they believe they are serving the greater good. “I can really help,” says nurse practitioner Patricia Kent. “I sit down with the patients and with my students. We teach the patients. We have fun.”

Last year, the first Have a Heart Gala raised more than $65,000 in event ticket sales and donations for Parkview Medical Center. With the continued success of the center, however, more help is needed. Hiring a second nurse practitioner and medical assistant is just a few ways the donations and ticket sales from this year’s Have a Heart Gala can provide for the clinic.

Patient Kathleen Armstrong explains, “Dr. Degnan listens to me. He is phenomenal. All these people are so nice and thorough. I can’t say enough about this place. For me, they are a Godsend.”

Lake Eva Banquet Hall is located at 799 Johns Avenue East in Haines City. For more information about this event, visit the Have a Heart Gala page on Facebook, or call Mai Degnan at (863) 421-2653 or Paula Dodd at (863) 287-4298.


article by JULIE GMITTER

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