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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.

UF Gets Designation For Work On Mental Health

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.

With suicide a growing concern, the University of Florida is touting the designation of its Mood Disorders Program as a center for excellence by the National Network of Depression Centers.

University of Florida Health is the first academic health center in the state to earn the distinction. It joins 21 other centers that work on issues such as educating people, speeding up research and improving treatment options for patients suffering from depression, bipolar disorder and other mood disorders.

Physician Regina Bussing, chair of UF’s department of psychiatry, said the designation will help accelerate efforts to improve and expand care for people with depression and mood disorders.

The nation’s suicide rate went up by nearly 30 percent between 1999 and 2016, according to a report issued this month by the federal Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

Florida’s suicide rate increased by 10.6 percent during the same period, the report said. But the latest state report issued by the Department of Children and Families Suicide Prevention Coordinating Council shows that there were 3,122 suicides in 2016, down from 3,152 suicides in 2015.

But both numbers were an increase from the 2,961 suicides reported by the state in 2014.

The University of Florida received the center of excellence designation in April but sent out a release following the high-profile suicides of fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef, author and television personality Anthony Bourdain. The CDC suicide report is here. The latest Florida report is here