August 1, 2018

MARATHON — Cash-strapped residents in the Middle and Lower Keys can look forward to receiving healthcare services at the Good Health Clinic’s Marathon satellite office, which will serve the area’s uninsured.

The clinic, operating under the auspice of its Tavernier office and offering the same resources, will provide primary care, disease management, family planning, prescription assistance, diagnostics and access to specialists to qualifying patients.

Good Health Clinic Executive Director Kate Banick said the low-cost clinic saw between 600 and 700 patients last year, with 10 percent of them making the drive to Tavernier from as far south as Key West.

“We are hoping residents throughout the Keys can access affordable healthcare more easily. It’s a tremendous and valuable community resource,” Banick said.

The U.S. Census Bureau Quick Facts estimates more than 15,000, or 20 percent, of Monroe County’s population of 77,013, ages 65 and younger, remain without health insurance regardless of the federal health law requiring most to be covered or face a penalty.

Charitable clinics bridge the gap in healthcare coverage and provide services to fit the medical needs of uninsured Americans.

The Good Health Clinic expansion into Marathon is to provide healthcare to low-income, uninsured residents during the next two years with funding from the United Way of the Florida Keys and Direct Relief International.

“This will give us time to assess the need there, but in the meantime, we can help those worse-hit by the hurricane [Irma], which came with a lot of unexpected expenses for most,” Banick said.

Immediately following the hurricane, the Good Health Clinic collaborated with national partners to distribute more than $5,000 in hygiene and cleaning products, ensured diabetic patients receive free test strips and glucose meters, and covered the costs of medications and transportation as needed, according to the Direct Relief Director of U.S. Programs Damon Taugher.

“Recovery from major disasters continues long after the headlines disappear, and many communities are still healing from 2017’s devastating storms,” said Taugher.

Direct Relief provided Good Health Clinic with $150,000 to expand its services.

The Good Health Clinic is also supported by grants, donations and partnerships made within the medical field.

“We operate like an old-school office,” Banick said. “We have one doctor dedicated to a patient so everything gets routed back to the clinic. We feel it’s really key to quality care to have a consistent healthcare team.

The clinic maintains a paid medical staff and has a database of referral and volunteer physicians. Banick said that many local private practitioners donate their services as well.

“We have a huge network, but their primary physician will stay consistent,” she said.

Patients must be residents of Monroe County, meet income level restrictions and have no healthcare insurance. Banick encourages residents to apply, and if the clinic is unable to offer care, it can provide resources.

The Good Health Clinic’s Marathon office is accepting appointments beginning Tuesday, Aug. 21, and recommending potential patients call now to schedule, as there may be a 24- to 48-hour window to process eligibility.

The Marathon office is located at the Bay Medical Center, 13365 Overseas Highway, suite 101 with office hours to be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. For more information, call 305-946-1314 or email info@thegoodhealthclinic.org.

To apply, visit thegoodhealthclinic.org.

tjava@keysnews.com