ABC – WFTV, Channel 9 Eyewitness News, 12/24/2012
Reporter: Steve Barrett

Central Fla. Cities Push for Health Clinics

CENTRAL FLORIDA — In an effort to save taxpayer money, mayors and council members across central Florida are asking to start their own health care clinics.

CareHere is a company that’s helped local cities, counties and school districts open their own health care centers for employees, retirees and their families.

“The average cost for a regular visit — the difference is about 50 percent less to have it done at our health center here,” said Jim Carnicella of CareHere in Ocoee. In addition to Ocoee, there are CareHere clinics in Sanford, Lake Mary, Apopka and one coming soon in Kissimmee. They are all free to employees of those cities and their families.

“Every service that we have here, all the primary care that you would receive at a regular physician’s office, we do here and it’s free to the employee and their dependents,” Carnicella said.

He said when the clinic opened in 2008, health care costs for Ocoee were projected to skyrocket from $3.5 million to nearly $6 million. Instead, health care costs for the city haven’t increased at all.

“The doctors and the staff get paid an hourly rate to see as many patients as they can,” Carnicella said.

Doctors at CareHere clinics get more time to talk to patients. They’re allotted 20 minutes with each person. Most clinics offer about five minutes with the doctor. Most clinics are paid by insurance companies, but at CareHere clinics doctors, nurses, X-ray technicians and other workers only work for their municipality.

“It’s really brought me back to why I went into medicine — to just focus on patient care and not think about insurance and getting authorizations and doing what I think is right for the patient,” said Ocoee city physician Dr. Roberta Chung.

Municipal CareHere clinics are also one-stop shopping – X-rays, blood work, rehabilitation and a pharmacy are available right in the clinic.

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ABC – WFTV, Channel 9 Eyewitness News

Kissimmee wants to be next city with CareHere clinic

October 15, 2012, KISSIMMEE, Fla. — A new healthcare model seems to be sweeping through central Florida and it has nothing to with the Affordable Care Act.

Cities, counties and school districts are opening their own health clinics, offering free health care to employees, retirees, and their families.

Kissimmee is set to vote on Tuesday to contract with CareHere, a company that already operates more than a dozen clinics in central Florida.

“The numbers of heart failures have come down, asthmas are down, diabetes is down, all those chronic, big-dollar, big-ticket items,” said Brian Branham, of CareHere clinics.

Branham said health is up and costs are down at the facilities, saving taxpayers money.  And in exam rooms, patients not only consult with physicians, they get their blood drawn and pick up prescriptions.

Patients get more time than in a traditional medicine model, where a doctor gets a few minutes with a patient.

Doctors with CareHere are allotted at least 20 minutes of consultation time with each patient.

“The physicians get time to actually sit with the patients, talk with them, figuring out what’s going on with them,” said Branham.

Sanford opened a clinic last month. Lake Mary will open one in December and Kissimmee wants to be the next city with healthier employees.

There is already a long list of taxpayer-owned clinics around central Florida, including Flagler County, Lake County Schools and local cities: Leesburg, Deland, Mt. Dora, Sanford, Apopka, and more.

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