Florida Health Secretary Dr. John Agwunobi spoke Wednesday to members of the Gadsden Community Health Council, applauding council members for their aggressive approach to providing access to health care through free screenings, and saving the state close to 75,000 in Medicaid dollars this year.
John Agwunobi says, "Gadsden, a somewhat rural community, one with a dense population, has faced challenges like HIV/AIDS, diabetes and access to health care. I mean, if you're pregnant in Gadsden County it's harder for you to get access to pre-natal care than many other counties around the state.”
The council, made up of a number of community leaders, is paying special attention to the needs of children.
Sherry Vanlandingham says, "Children cannot learn if they are not healthy. If they can't see or hear properly, and if their teeth ache, they can't learn."
There's also increased focus on the needs of the county's Latino community.
Maria Pouncey says, "Most pressing for the Latino population is to be included. Many of them come into this area twice a week. They come, work, then leave. It's difficult for them to get onto different boards and have their need be known."
Dr. Agwunobi says the best thing the council has done is provide an infrastructure to ensure that grant dollars go where they're needed most.
Earlier this year the council's efforts helped close to 2,000 children receive free dental screenings.