First look into Care Point Health and Wellness impresses
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
One of the questions that Rob Renzi had to answer during an interview that eventually led to being named executive director of Big Bend Cares was if he knew anything about fund-raising.
He answered yes. Finding the $15 million dollars that would be needed to build a new healthcare facility on the Southside became a top priority. In addition to capital funding, part of the funding for Care Point Health and Wellness Center came from an $8 million loan and $1.5 million from the Community Redevelopment Agency.
This past Thursday, after withstanding a firestorm of criticism over some of the funding and contaminant found on the property, Big Bend Cares gave a first look inside of the 27,000-square foot building with a ribbon-cutting celebration. It’s grand opening is scheduled for later this year.
Renzi was elated to see the day that a group of invited community leaders, politicians and stakeholders came together to celebrate. There were a few nights leading up to the big day that he didn’t get much sleep, Renzi said.
“I feel relief and gratitude for all the help that we were given,” he said, standing in the huge lobby of the state-of-the-art building. “We could not do this by ourselves. A lot of people have done a lot of work and this is a culmination of that.”
Located on the intersection of South Monroe Street and Magnolia Drive, Care Point’s patients will be able to receive primary care, dental, radiology, lab, pharmacy and mental health services. Big Bend Cares will continue to handle HIV cases, while Apalachee Center will provide psychiatric and behavioral counseling.
Other partners that will provide services in the building include Mail-Meds Pharmacy, TMH family practice, FSU College of Medicine and Bond Community Health Center.
Negotiations are underway for Neighborhood Medical Center to also partner with Care Point, Renzi said.
When in full operation, Care Point will have 100 employees in 35 new jobs, according to Big Bend Cares.
“Whenever you can bring new tools and facilities to a community, especially in areas where there is specific niche-type needs, it always improves the healthcare for those who are in need,” said Marc O’Bryant, president/CEO of Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. “This facility is beautiful (and) we anticipate it’s going to be an upgrade in what it’s going to be able to deliver to the population it serves.
“We are very fortunate in Tallahassee to have resources committed to patients.”
Care Point will be opened to patients with or without medical insurance, Renzi said, responding to criticism that Big Bend Cares had no plans to see the uninsured.
“I cannot make it any clearer,” Renzi said. “Everybody. Insurance. No insurance, Medicare, Medicaid. It doesn’t matter. We will see them all.”
Big Bend Cares also got some criticism from community activist Dr. Ed Holifield and County Commissioner Bill Proctor. Midway through the construction, they held a joint press conference to protest clean up of contaminants found on the property. However, it was cleared by the Department of Environmental Protection.
Holifield also protested the $1.5 million in funding from the Community Redevelopment Agency.
He showed up on Thursday to continue his protest, but was prevented from going past the fenced entrance. He questioned why he wasn’t permitted to attend the ribbon cutting.
“They didn’t let me get near the building,” he said. “They had targeted me. I had two police coming up to me and saying ‘if you get any closer we’re going to have to arrest you.’ ”
Care Point will operate Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Those hours could be expanded, depending on the influx of patients, Renzi said.