First of Its Kind Free Lung Clinic Is Open in Apopka
Open just six months, the free clinic is already seeing a need to expand its hours.
[Respiratory Therapist Kathy Cirilo and Nurse Practitioner Sherri Ferguson are volunteers at the Apopka Community Lung Clinic]
Florida Hospital Respiratory Care Director Ed Fluker says it was always hard to watch uninsured patients come through the emergency department with things like asthma, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease because there were always problems with follow up care.
“We were always very concerned about their welfare or what they would do because they would leave with prescriptions they couldn’t afford to fill, and we knew in a lot of cases they would just go home and they would get sicker, probably come back to the hospital, but in a lot of cases it prevented them from being able to hold a job or keep a job or take care of their families,” says Fluker.
That’s what triggered the idea for the Apopka Community Lung Clinic. It’s grant funded and staffed by 150 volunteer nurses, respiratory therapists and doctors, it can not only provide treatments, it can provide up to a year’s worth of medication to patients who qualify. The need is so great, the clinic has provided 160-thousand dollars worth of medication since it opened in July. Right now the clinic is open only on Tuesdays, but Fulker says in January the clinic expand to two days a week- and hopefully it will eventually open other locations.