Without quality prenatal care, a pregnant woman is 10.9 times more likely to have a baby die and 5.6 times more likely to have a baby born with low birth weight. Research has shown that $1.00 of preventative care can save $6.00 of additional costs over the lifetime of a premature baby. Low birth weight leads to other significant problems including organs that are not fully developed, which can lead to lung problems and vision loss. These babies are 20 times more likely to die in their first year of life according to March of Dimes.
According to the “Child Well-Being in Collier County: A 2010 Update,” 38 percent of Collier County resident births were with less than adequate prenatal care, down four percentage points from 2006. Low-income women are among those most at risk for delivering low birth weight babies. They tend to use prenatal care less, perceive more barriers to care, have less positive reinforcement for receiving care, have less access to care, have lower education levels, maintain less healthy lifestyles, and have lower compliance with medical recommendations.
Primary Care in Immokalee: Isabel Collier Read
Through strategic brokering and partnerships and a $2,000,000 investment matched dollar for dollar by Florida State, NCEF successfully introduced a fully renovated Primary Care Clinic at the Isabel Collier Read building in Immokalee, Florida. NCEF’s investment helped to finance renovations to the 29,000-square-foot medical clinic that had been donated to FSU by Naples Community Hospital Healthcare System in 2007. The building had originally been donated to NCH Healthcare by Isabel Collier Read in an effort to ensure that the medical needs of the community’s farm workers and other underserved residents would be met. After the deed on the property was transferred to FSU, Read endowed the medical school’s educational program in Immokalee with an additional gift. The gifts from Read and NCEF were eligible for state matching funds, which pushed the combined value of all three gifts to more than $13 million.
The Isabel Collier Read Medical Campus in Immokalee is a collaboration between Healthcare Network and Florida State University (FSU) College of Medicine and is one of the University’s College of Medicine’s regional campuses. FSU students from the medical school’s six regional campuses throughout the state have the opportunity to work alongside Healthcare Network primary care providers and staff in pediatric, women’s and behavioral health. The program offers students a more complete understanding of rural medicine while also contributing to the health of the community.
Healthcare Network’s Women’s Health practice moved into the Isabel Collier Read building in March 2010. The department has one OB/GYN and two certified nurse midwives on staff. There are also third- and fourth-year medical students from FSU’s College of Medicine completing rotations throughout the department. There are eight exam rooms, one ultrasound room, one treatment room and blood draw laboratory. The department offers prenatal and postnatal care, as well as standard gynecological care.
Primary Care in Golden Gate: Nichols Community Health Center
Open in June 2020, Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida’s new Nichols Community Health Center provides needed primary medical services to the Golden Gate community. The 50,000 square foot facility allows for primary services included medical, dental, and behavioral healthcare to work together seamlessly for an integrated system of care for each patient. NCEF’s contributions provided critical medical supplies and furniture for pediatric services, as well as the hiring of two Pediatric Nurse Practitioners for the center.
Fostering Scientific and Medical Professionals
Since 2015, NCEF has supported the Science Students Together Reaching Instructional Diversity & Excellence Program or SSTRIDE. SSTRIDE is an outreach effort of the FSU College of Medicine to serve, educate, and train pre-college students from culturally diverse backgrounds to pursue a science or health career. The goal is to grow and cultivate a pipeline of scientific or medical professionals for rural and low-income communities within the region.
SSTRIDE’s model includes partnership agreements between medical schools, universities, clinics, doctor’s offices, school districts, and secondary schools. Central to the program are diverse and meaningful student learning experiences (guest speakers, content-related field trips, group projects), a structured in-school program (advanced SSTRIDE science or elective course, hands-on labs and activities, and mentor-facilitated groups), and an after-school component (individualized tutoring and mentoring). Standardized test prep classes, educational field trips, shadowing, professional development exercises, and a week-long residential medical school immersion are also part of the programs structure.
University of Florida Pediatric Endocrinology
Access to medical care is a critical issue for rural and low-income communities within Collier County. Barriers such as awareness, transportation, and access to healthy food can make it difficult for children and families to receive critical healthcare. Recently, NCEF supported the University of Florida to launch a Pediatric Endocrinology Telemedicine program, which would enable families in rural communities to obtain care for their children virtually, without jeopardizing their income by taking time off of work to travel into the Naples area.