A new adult-care clinic in Newtown opened this month. A community-wide partnership aims to make the clinic a ‘one-stop-shop’ for a variety of needs for the community just north of the city of Sarasota, where access to medical care and other services has been a challenge.
In addition to its reputation as a food desert, Newtown has no doctor’s offices. That’s why organizers of the new Jean & Alfred Goldstein Health Center saw it as an ideal place to establish an internal medicine continuity clinic whose services extend beyond direct patient care.
“As we were developing our program one of the things we wanted to do was really go beyond meeting accreditation requirements, but to really provide care to a very underserved population,” said Dr. Wilhelmine Wiese-Rometsch. She directs the Florida State University College of Medicine Internal Residency Program at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, which has brought in 13 residents to get their internal medicine specialty training at the clinic.
In an effort to provide more comprehensive care, the clinic has also partnered with Sarasota Memorial Hospital’s Pharmacy Residency Program to provide counseling and a local charitable pharmacy that provides low-income patients with free prescriptions through manufacturer assistance programs.
“I can treat my patients and give them five prescriptions, but if they don’t know where they’re going to afford that, it’s not going to work,” said Dr. Wiese-Rometsch. “So the other group we’ve partnered with is also Good Samaritan Pharmacy. So, anyone that’s below the poverty level are able to get basically free medications.”
“We anticipate that we’ll have a lot of patients with diabetes, for example, so it really made sense to partner with the food bank, which will not only provide them with additional services of fruits and vegetables, but they provide nutrition classes,” said Dr. Wiese-Rometsh. “They help them prepare meals and so forth.”
The clinic is also collaborating with Booker High School to give students an opportunity to shadow doctors, lawyers, nurses and nutritionists working at the clinic.
Dr. Wiese-Rometsch said the 13 resident physicians chosen for this first year of the program came from an applicant pool of about 4,000 newly trained doctors whose professional goals aligned with that of the clinic.
Dr. Christopher Jenkins is among those first year residents now working at the clinic. “I chose this program, the hospital specifically, because of the clinic,” said Dr. Jenkins.
“I was really impressed with the faculty’s commitment and passion and drive to serve the underserved community and to just be involved in their care and their education so that they can improve the quality of life in these communities,” he said.
Over the next three years, Dr. Wiese-Rometsch plans to bring in 39 physician residents to receive their internal medicine specialty training.