The West Volusia Hospital Authority is opening a new medical clinic in DeLand that’s designed to save taxpayers money by keeping people out of the emergency room. And, there are plans for two more, in Southwest Volusia and in Pierson.
The clinic is for Hospital Authority health-card holders, low-income people who fall in the gap between being able to afford health insurance and being poor enough to qualify for Medicaid.
Beginning Oct. 1, members of the WVHA health-card program will be able to see doctors and receive prescription medication at the clinic with no copayments.
The new clinic, at 844 W. Plymouth Ave., is a joint venture between the Employee Benefit Management Services miCare program and the WVHA.
EBMS miCare President Andrew Murray said the clinic will have all of the features of a primary-care doctor’s office, assisting patients with anything from a runny nose to a chronic illness. In his words, it will be “a one stop shop for health card holders.”
Murray said the goal is to keep health-card holders away from expensive hospital visits.
“We become the primary-care practice, the quarterback for health care for any need a patient has,” he said. “All journeys begin at the clinic, and they should all end at the clinic.”
The clinic will host a built-in pharmacy and, on some days, share the space with other WVHA-funded agencies like The House Next Door, which qualifies people for the health-card program. Clients will be able to renew their health cards at the clinic instead of having to go elsewhere.
Also, Murray explained, since EBMS is working closely with the WVHA, the clinic staff will be able to see all of a patient’s health care records. That will be an improvement over other kinds of providers, who may not know a patient’s history, Murray said.
“They don’t know what services a patient is getting outside of their four walls unless they do a lot of digging. EBMS pays all of the claims on behalf of WVHA, so we see 100 percent of claims,” Murray explained.
The new clinic will serve as a pilot project for miCare’s expansion throughout the West Volusia area.
Murray said the current plan is to open the DeLand miCare facility with extra staff members, then to move half the staff — everyone from doctors to receptionists — down to a planned Southwest Volusia location in either Deltona or Orange City in three to four months.
In six to nine months, the plan is to do the same to open a part-time clinic in Pierson.
According to Murray, once the two other clinics are built, the three facilities will operate like a connected network.
“If there is an urgent medical need and we don’t have someone on-site, we could video link them with someone in another clinic,” he said. “We will have an emergency hotline 24 hours per day, and health-card holders could reach us.”
Murray said he is looking forward to the West Volusia community using the new facilities.
“This is a fully subsidized service by the WVHA for its health-card holders,” he said. “I think this is a wonderful service paid for by the taxpayers.”
To apply for a WVHA health card, visit the agency’s website at www.westvolusiahospitalauthority.org and click on the card application, or visit The House Next Door, whose main office is at 804 N. Woodland Blvd. in DeLand.