Plans are in the works to bring a health care facility to one of the more underserved communities.
Near the railroad tracks, blocks from the bustle of downtown West Palm Beach, there’s a makeshift exam room at St Ann Place.
Nurse Nakisha Kinlaw cared today for Michael Valentine, who she sent to the emergency room at a nearby hospital. Last Friday, Valentine was kicked and robbed and ended up having stomach surgery.
“I'm usually the one that actually takes out the staples,” said Kinlaw.
Like hundreds of others in the northwest community, Valentine is uninsured and can't afford a car. The nearest health center is more than three miles away.
“I need help and the only place i can get help is at St Anne,” said Valentine.
Kinlaw rarely gets to see all her patients.
“That breaks my heart not being able to keep that commitment but I'm already stretched to as far as I can go,” explained Kinlaw.
She's praying the community builds a new health center to serve the approximate 3,500 people living in the northwest section, Coleman Park and Pleasant City. Many people in those neighborhoods work hard but don’t have a lot of money. They may have a car but most people rely on public transportation and regular visits to the doctor is a luxury.
“Going to the doctor is not something that's common for the northwest community residents,” explained Kinlaw.
To meet that need, the Northwest Community Consortium (NCCI) is proposing a $1.9 million facility on the southwest corner of Tamarind Avenue and 9th Street. Services would include screenings, dental care and mental health services.
Ron Davis, the board chairman for NCCI, had a vision for the facility about four years ago. “In the northwest community, there's so many persons who don't have health care or don't have adequate health care,” explained Lewis.
Bruce Lewis, the president of the Black Chamber of Commerce, says the need is huge. “The need is immense and has been for quite some time,” explained Lewis. “The climate is correct. There's cranes up everywhere all over the city and we're in an upswing in our economy so let's take advantage of it now.”
Plans for the health center will go before city commissioners next month
There will be fundraiser for it on April 6 at the West Palm Beach Marriott at 11 a.m.