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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.

New Mental Health Option For Kids

A Collier County non-profit mental health and substance abuse program for kids has opened up a new program that offers intensive daily therapy and doesn’t require hospitalization. It's the first kind in the area. 

The David Lawrence Center has started the Partial Hospitalization Program, a program the Center calls "the highest outpatient psychiatric therapy offered". 

Before this program, kids in the area had two options: 1) get admitted into a residential psychiatric center or  2) get therapy once a week.

The Center’s director of admission and outpatient therapy services, Natalie Garcia, said usually when children leave residential care, they go to weekly therapy. 

"Now, they can go from residential therapy to daily therapy services for anywhere from one to three weeks," said Garcia. 

Garcia said with this program, kids can get daily therapy and still go home. 

“Really this program helps to focus on keeping kids at home with their families," said Garcia.  "And building those relationships and on school functioning, self-care. Decreasing and eliminating self-harming behaviors. And the increase in ability to use coping skills.” 

Garcia said within a year the Center has seen an increase for a need for crisis psychiatric services for kids. She said she hopes this new Partial Hospitalization Program, the only one of its kind in southwest Florida, will intervene before crisis care is needed

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