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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.

Deaths Highlight Mental Health Needs

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

  Several recent, high-profile Florida murder cases have brought to light the need for increased mental health services.

Jessica Lacy McCarty, 33, was charged Saturday with the murder of her three young children in Palm Bay, the Orlando Sentinel reports. A Department of Children and Families investigation showed she had previously received mental health treatment from a community provider.

In New Port Richey, the Tampa Bay Times reports that murder suspect Jason Rios was involuntarily committed for mental health issues three times prior to the deaths of his mother and niece and injury of another niece in February. Rios, 24, lived with his nieces and his parents, the girls’ guardians, the Times reports. But child protection officials never placed him under the same scrutiny as the grandparents, the Times reports.

And in Miami, officials are looking into the death of Eddie Campos, a poor fruit vendor in Miami who was killed last month at an assisted living facility that serves clients living with mental illness, the Miami Herald reports. A man with schizophrenia placed there by the criminal court system is charged with his death and the Herald reports that the Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration is accusing the facility, New Greenview II, of failing to provide a safe environment for its residents and surrounding neighborhoods.

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.