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New clinic opens to help underserved area

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Thousands of people in Northwest Jacksonville will now have better access to health care after several organizations and a local college partnered up to open a new health care clinic at Edward Waters College.

The new clinic is located right on the campus of Edward Waters College which invested money into its Schell Sweet Community Center to renovate it and incorporate it with a primary health care provider.

"This brings, not just joy, but so much pride. It's unbelievable," pediatrician Dr. John Assi said.

Assi will be in charge of the clinic and said this area really needed it. He points to studies that show in areas just northwest of downtown, the rate of bronchitis and diabetes is about two and a half times higher than the rest of Duval County and deaths from chronic disease are one and a half times higher than the rest of the county.

"What we want to do is reduce the disparity in health care between this community and the rest of the communities in Jacksonville. I know the children and adults in this community have been underserved," Assi (pictured below) said.

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The 46,000 square-foot clinic includes a reception area, seven exam rooms, a lab and two doctor's offices, all located in a high poverty area that lacks in health care clinics.

"Instead of having them come to the office, I brought the office to them. This way it makes life easier on them and on their families," Assi said.

"You have great people here in this community, and it's kind of been labeled as a 'problem area of Jacksonville' but it's really not. I think the community just needs an opportunity and somewhere to go," Patricia Medlock, interim regional managing director of the Department of Children and Families, said.

The clinic plans to expand in the future opening a dental clinic and offering OBGYN, mental health and internal medicine services.

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"The bottom line is that the community itself came together and said, 'We need this and we're going to work on making sure this thing works,' and they did and here we are," Assi said.

The Schell Sweet Community Health Clinic is expected to open by the end of October and anyone in the community is welcome. They also accept most insurance plans.