WayFree, St. Vincent’s partnership provides much-needed neonatal care

By Nick Blank Staff Writer
Posted 7/3/19

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Thanks to the clinic’s partnership with St. Vincent’s Medical Centere, nearly 50 uninsured mothers come to the Way Free Clinic each year for prenatal care.

The Way Free …

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WayFree, St. Vincent’s partnership provides much-needed neonatal care

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Thanks to the clinic’s partnership with St. Vincent’s Medical Centere, nearly 50 uninsured mothers come to the Way Free Clinic each year for prenatal care.

The Way Free Clinic developed a formal partnership with St. Vincent’s family residence program a few years ago. St. Vincent’s provides resident physicians for five-week rotations, who come in twice a week. Mothers receive medical assessments and learn self and newborn care.

“[The mothers are] in great shape when it comes time for delivery,” Way Free Executive Director Don Fann said. “It looks like any other family coming to the hospital to have a birth happen.”

The partnership culminates with a birth at St. Vincent's Medical Center Riverside.

“Once a woman is pregnant and delivery is imminent, that person becomes eligible for emergency Medicaid, assured in cooperation with St. Vincent’s HOPE [charity care] program,” Fann said. “That coverage is in place for the birth, then the child is a U.S. citizen and eligible for Medicaid.”

Catherine Melo had her son, Marino, with Way Free and St. Vincent’s’ assistance. With no health insurance, Melo learned she was pregnant and was referred to Way Free.

“At Way Free Clinic, I received medicine, vaccines, all that you can imagine,” she said. “I felt like I was in heaven.”

In the last Clay County Health Needs Assessment from the state Department of Health, it reported 30% of individuals 19-25 years old in the county were uninsured. In the county, the need for prenatal care for uninsured mothers is great, Fann said.

Tracie Loftis, Ascension Florida Chief Mission Integration Officer, said St. Vincent’s was blessed to support Way Free and work with vulnerable patients.

“In addition to direct financial contributions, we provide laboratory and imaging services for the clinic, as well as delivery support for prenatal care patients. Our family medicine residents regularly rotate through the clinic, providing direct patient care,” Loftis said. “Our Mission at Ascension St. Vincent’s calls us to serve all people, with special attention to those most in need.”

According to Way Free, one in seven Clay County residents are eligible for the clinic’s array of medical services. The clinic serves about 1,000 people a year.

State statutes do not allow free clinics to charge patients. Potential patients must be Clay County residents and make 200% or lower below the federal poverty guidelines. They cannot have insurance, though an exception is made for Medicaid “share of cost” patients.

“The Way Free helps people like me. I have no words to describe the way they made me feel,” Melo said. “They take care of my baby, too. I feel very grateful.”

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