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June 6, 2014

Suwannee Health Dept: Primary care to privatize

Palms Medical Group will offer services beginning July 1

Live Oak —

The Suwannee County Board of County Commissioners voted 4-1 Tuesday night at their regular monthly meeting to enter into an agreement with Palms Medical Group to utilize the facilities at the Florida Department of Health in Suwannee County to offer primary care services. Chairman Phil Oxendine voted against. 

Palms Medical Group will begin providing services at the health department beginning July 1, although the health department will cease those services June 20. 

According to the agreement with Palms Medical Group, the contract expires on Sept. 30, 2015, however, the contract shall renew for two additional periods of 12 months unless either party exercises their right to terminate the agreement. 

In an email to the Democrat prior to the meeting, FDOH-Suwannee County Administrator Pamela Blackmon said financial cuts in general revenue and Medicaid have forced the department to partner with Palms Medical Group to continue offering primary care services. She said several health departments around the state have transitioned primary care to other medical providers. 

“The revenues the health department receives has not been enough, for several years, to fund primary care,” Blackmon said. “We have supplemented the program, but we no longer have the funds to continue to do this. The Medicaid funding that we receive has dropped for several years.”

Blackmon said the approval of the agreement with Palms Medical Group will allow patients to receive the same primary care services previously offered by the health department.

“Although revenues no longer support providing primary care services directly by the health department, this partnership ensures continued access to medical care for low-income families in Suwannee County,” stated Blackmon. “With approval by the commission to continue utilizing a small section of the health department facility for medical care the clients will have a very seamless transition to the services they have received throughout the years.”

Blackmon stressed the Florida Department of Health in Suwannee County will continue to provide other services such as family planning, child and adult immunizations, WIC, STD, TB, communicable disease investigations, birth and death certificates and others. 

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