HealthStreet bridges the gap between community and resources

The more I learn about HealthStreet, the more I want to share it! Founded in 2011, this unique program aims to reduce disparities in access to health care by connecting the community to medical and social resources, often for free or at low cost.

People may not realize that UF HealthStreet is not just for University of Florida students. It’s actually a separate program from UF Health/Shands, open to anyone.

HealthStreet membership is free. This is the community engagement program of the UF Clinical and Translational Sciences Program, part of UF, intended to engage the entire North Florida community. HealthStreet is a gem among us and surprisingly the only program like it in Florida.

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While focusing on reaching vulnerable populations in Alachua County, HealthStreet seeks to involve everyone in our community. But its services can be especially valuable for those who face barriers to accessing services.

Imagine, for example, trying to navigate the healthcare system with little computer expertise, no internet, or no fluency in English. Frankly, that would be difficult if not impossible. Add to that little or no health insurance, a job with no flexible hours, and a lack of transportation – you get the picture! Yet the health of our community depends on the health of all.

What sets this program apart is its focus on community outreach. By hiring and training community health workers, HealthStreet helps “bridge the gap between community members and the health resources available to them.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, community health workers “are lay members of the community…who typically share ethnicity, language, socioeconomic status, and life experiences with community members. they serve “. They come from a place of shared lived experiences, and don’t need medical training.

Community health workers offer interpretation and translation services and provide culturally appropriate health education and information. Many members of our community need help, but they don’t know where to turn. HealthStreet contacts them directly through these trusted workers to bring them the necessary information directly.

It is essential to connect people to various organizations and clinics that provide free or low cost primary care, dental care, vision/eye care, mental health care, prenatal care and more. In particular, they have Spanish-only clinics, LGBTQ+ health clinics, seniors, people with disabilities – in other words, anyone. I’m particularly impressed with their neurocognitive screening initiative, offering screenings to “uninsured individuals or those who cannot otherwise afford cognitive testing.”

Willie Wims Jr., owner of Wims Hair Studio, receives a health assessment from Diane M. Biernacki, a clinical research nurse with UF HealthStreet, during health checkups in the parking lot of Wims Hair Studio.

Their website includes by far the best list of organizations in this field that provide free or discounted medical and social services to our community. It has over 30 organizations, with a detailed list of services, clinic hours and numbers to call for help, including healthcare, mental health, internet access, help food, domestic violence, housing assistance, elder assistance, employment assistance, legal services, immigration assistance and more. Some of these programs are offered by UF and Alachua County, but many are nonprofit groups that have been helping our community for years.

You may have noticed their colorful buses around town and at various community events. HealthStreet has mobile health vehicles staffed with trained community health workers and nurses who provide screening, referral and, most importantly, vaccination of adults against COVID-19. If you would like them to visit your neighborhood, contact Dr. Catherine Striley, Deputy Director, at [email protected], or visit their website at https://bit.ly/ourcommunityhealth.

This is just one of many awareness programs offered by HealthStreet. At their actual physical location, 2401 SW Archer Road, they provide blood pressure screenings, health needs assessments, free Narcan nasal spray kits, confidential HIV testing and counseling, free food pantry for clothing and toiletries, and more. They are open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

UF HealthStreet Community Health Workers

If you are looking for a rewarding career and want to make a difference in your community, consider becoming a community health worker. HealthStreet will help you get trained, and a degree is not required.

If you are a family member, social or healthcare worker, senior attorney, or any other guy looking for resources in Alachua County, call 352-294-4880 or email them. email [email protected] to find out how they can help you. You will not be disappointed !

Star Bradbury (www.starbradbury.com) owns Senior Living Strategies in Gainesville.

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