For nearly a year, members of Destin Church of Christ have been asking city officials permission to build and operate a free medical clinic.
Tuesday night, city council members granted the request. Members of the church are anxious to start construction on the new facility.
Members of Destin Church of Christ have spent years dreaming about the possibility of running Hope Medical Clinic. Now, that dream is closer to reality.
The project's director, Tim Roberts, says the idea to start a free health care clinic came directly from a community need.
Tim Roberts, Medical clinic director, said, "We're trying to meet those people who are currently working. They're out there participating in the community, they're just in a situation where their employers can't provide them with health care. We want to step in and meet that need."
The Florida Department of Health's most recent statistics show nearly 22, 500 Okaloosa County residents don't have health insurance. Over 21,000 of those are employed. Destin city officials say they couldn't ignore those figures.
Craig Barker, Mayor of Destin, said, "There's a tremendous need here in Okaloosa County for health services, and the statistics prove that the majority of Americans don't have good quality health care, so the church is trying to provide that serve here in our community."
The project's manager hopes to turn this room into the clinic's lobby, but donations are needed to cover the cost of construction.
When construction begins, offices will eventually serve as examine rooms. The clinic organizers say they've already lined up several doctors willing to treat the community.
Dr. Luke Lentz said, "We're working under the Volunteer Health Care Program, which means the liability issues are covered by the state of Florida. We're volunteering our time for free. If doctors would volunteer one day a month or a day every other month, we'd have a full blown clinic."
The church hopes to start serving the uninsured working people of Okaloosa County sometime early next year.
If you are interested in making a tax deductible donation, you can send a check to the church, designating it's for the medical clinic. That address is 150 Beach Drive in Destin.
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