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Health News Florida
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.

Mental Hospital Focus on Court, Not Treatment

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Florida is spending more than $50 million a year getting defendants charged with nonviolent crimes declared competent for trial and not providing these same people significant mental health treatment, according to an investigation by the Tampa Bay Times and Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

The current system has defendants spend two hours a day watching courtroom procedure videos reminiscent of game shows, and cuts off care once they are removed from mental hospitals. The result is that about 200 of these individuals a year are returning to state mental hospitals within 12 months, the investigation reports.

Florida’s Legislature in January will be asked to consider a bill to provide the Florida Department of Children and Families $19 million to expand its treatment options, and another proposal that would increase jail diversion programs across the state, the Times and Herald-Tribune reports.