In 2004, five very concerned North Port citizens saw the need for health care services for low income individuals in their community. There were almost no medical resources in that part of Sarasota County, and even fewer for those who were indigent or lacked health insurance.
These individuals approached Bill Little, who was the Sarasota County Health Department Administrator at the time, with the request to open a primary health care facility in a store front. Always willing to meet community needs, he gave the go ahead and within a short period of time, the Health Department’s North Port branch was launched. That agreement, sealed by a handshake, became the seed for the Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) we see today in Sarasota County.
I have had the honor of serving as the Chief Executive Officer of the CenterPlace Health (formerly the Community Health Centers of Sarasota County) since 2010. During my tenure, I have witnessed enormous growth in the number of individuals we serve, the number of sites we have under the FQHC umbrella, the community partnerships we’ve fostered, and the type of services we provide. There has also been great deal of attention placed on quality health care and customer service. This is no easy feat in face of the ever-changing landscape of medicine.
Today CenterPlace Health has three full-service centers covering north and south Sarasota County, with a fourth center that provides mental health/substance abuse intervention services; in addition to primary care services, each site includes a pharmacy and lab. All physicians are Board certified in their respective fields. We provide affordable health care to adults and children. We offer preventive and restorative dental services for children and emergency dental services for adults. We have onsite mental health and substance abuse personnel. Acknowledging the connection of mind and body, we are actively moving in the direction of more integrated primary and behavioral health care.
Since 2010, we have operated in partnership with the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County. As the Florida Department of Health began to move away from offering primary health care services throughout the State, our Board embarked on the next milestone in the CenterPlace Health evolution. The members bravely committed to taking full responsibility for offering services as an independent primary health care provider. This process took years of planning and committed work from our board, resulting in CenterPlace Health being award the Federally Qualified Health Center grant for the Sarasota area beginning August 2018. This allows the centers to be Sarasota County-centric and meet the needs of our community. We are committed to ensuring a smooth transition and continuity of care for all our patients.
This is an enormous undertaking that will need the full support of our community to be successful. Given the civic culture and dedication to community partnerships and collaboration in Sarasota County, we know we can count on you to share our vision of good health. For everyone.
Linda L. Stone, PhD