The Cheney Wellness Cottage, a self-contained health center providing primary medical services to Cheney Elementary School students and families, as well as other community members in East Orlando, opened for business this month on the south end of the Cheney school campus at 2000 North Forsyth Rd., Orlando.
Open Monday and Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Cottage offers a variety of services. They include annual physicals, treatment of common colds, primary gynecology care, diabetic and blood pressure screenings, immunizations, cancer and disease screenings, lab services, health education and referrals.
Operated by the Central Florida Family Health Center (CFFHC), the Wellness Cottage was developed with the support of Nemours Children’s Hospital, The Florida Blue Foundation and the Winter Park Health Foundation in cooperation with Orange County Public Schools (OCPS).
It represents an expansion of services offered at Cheney Elementary since 2012 by CCFHC, which is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). (FQHCs qualify for enhanced reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid, as well as other benefits, and provide services to underserved areas and populations. They are able to bill many private insurance companies and they accept HealthyKids/Florida KidCare insurance.)
The Cheney Wellness Cottage is the first school-based health center operated by a FQHC in Orange County. A second, also operated by CFFHC, has opened at Evans Community School, and WPHF was pleased to be a match-making catalyst behind both of them, according to Debbie Watson, WPHF Vice President.
“WPHF had been talking with CFFHC leaders for several years about how we could help facilitate a partnership between them and OCPS to provide school-based health services,” explained Ms. Watson. The pairing had been of interest because WPHF saw it as a way to ensure funding and sustainability for school-based health center services.
In the belief that healthy kids make better students, WPHF has supported a collection of school-based health and wellness services in 12 schools in Winter Park, Maitland and Eatonville for more than 13 years.
To foster connections, WPHF several years ago provided a grant to take a group of leaders from Central Florida (representing OCPS, Orange County Government/Primary Care Access Network, Florida Department of Health in Orange County, and CFFHC) to the Annual Conference of the National Assembly of School-Based Health Care (now known as the School Based Health Alliance). The gathering helped the leaders see the potential for partnerships.
Aware of Nemours’ interest in helping underwrite health care for the underserved children and families, and of the critical health care needs at Cheney Elementary, WPHF helped Nemours, the school and school district officials connect with the CFFHC to consider establishing a clinic at the school. Nemours provided seed funding for planning and start-up operations.
Last year, CFFHC operated out of a Cheney classroom serving only school students and faculty. In the new Cheney Wellness Cottage, services also are available to the community, and it can serve as a medical home for those who’ve had trouble accessing care.
CFFHC received grants from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration
to purchase and install the “cottages” (portables made into medical clinics) at each school site, according to Ms. Watson. They are designed so students are served on one side, securely separated from community members who can access care on the other side of the cottage.
“The new Cheney Cottage provides a great opportunity for families in the Cheney area to access health care for the entire family,” said Tori Sheahan, Nurse Practitioner and Coordinator of the WPHF School Nursing Initiative. It is, she said, a perfect complement to services already provided at the school-based health centers at Glenridge Middle School and Winter Park High School.
For more information or to make an appointment, call 407-322-8645. CFFHC also accepts walk-ins.