Commerical fisherman Thomas Ditch had to make a tough decision recently about his health care plan.
"When the premiums got higher than my mortgage payment, it was either providing housing for my own children or worrying about my own health, said Ditch.
With no health care for himself, he heard that the Florence Nightingale Express would be in Martin County Tuesday. The 38-foot, fully equipped mobile medical clinic is operated by the Visiting Nurse Association of Florida and provides free basic care.
"I see a lot of patients who can't afford to go to a doctor, so I manage them for their uncomplicated chronic illnesses," says Nicholette Christie, a nurse practitioner with VNA.
The nurse practitioner can also send the patient to specialists who will see those with bigger health concerns.
The VNA works with area social service agencies like the House of Hope, to target those areas where it can do the most good.
The VNA has a 14-county coverage area including Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Okeechobee counties. In its first year of operation, it hit 130 sites, and treated more than a thousand patients. It is supported through private donations.
On his visit, Thomas Ditch passed with flying colors. He knows for now he can count on the VNA to help in a pinch.
"Early diagnosis, early cure you know," he said as he climbed off the bus.
The next stop for Florence Nightingale Express is the ElSol center on Military Trail in Jupiter Wednesday. To find out more, go here .