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Every day, hundreds of sick and injured patients walk into free and charitable clinics around the Tampa Bay area in need of a doctor.Many are suffering from chronic conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Some patients were referred to the clinics by staff at hospitals where they landed after years of neglecting to care for treatable conditions.The clinics allow the patients to pay what they can, or nothing at all. They are staffed by doctors and nurses who volunteer their time. They survive off donations and small grants.Many of the patients have jobs but they are living paycheck to paycheck. None have health insurance, either because they do not qualify for Medicaid or can’t afford private coverage. For these patients, the clinics are often their only option for primary care.

Teen's Wait for Help Proved Fatal

The Palm Beach County deputy who responded to Linda Camberdella's 911 call about her teen-age son Michael had been trained and certified in how to handle violent situations involving persons with mental illness. But Michael ended up dead, nevertheless.

The teen's death in 2012 illustrates how mentally ill individuals and their families in Florida have relatively few resources to help them, theSouth Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. The 18-year-old with the “mind of a 5-year-old” was on a waiting list to live in a group home.

The Department of Children & Familiesestimates that only 34 percent of the adults and 27 percent of the children who need help get it. The Sun-Sentinel cites reports saying that Florida’s investment on mental health, about $40 per resident, is just a third of the national average.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.