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More Kids Get Access To Health Care Through New Partnership


Beginning next month, kids from low-income families in the western Panhandle will get better access to medical and dental care.

Sacred Heart Health System’s Pediatric Care Center is moving from its Pensacola campus to the Florida Department of Health-Escambia’s main office on West Fairfield, to join in a new partnership with Escambia Community Clinics.

“We’ve partnered with Sacred Heart on a couple of venues with residency, one being internal medicine, and then the OB-GYN,” said ECC Executive Director Chandra Smiley.

There’s also a new name: ECC at Fairfield. Staffing the new facility will be 27 pediatricians from Sacred Heart and residents from the University Of Florida College Of Medicine. Each year, says Smiley, the Pediatric Care Center serves more than 20,000 young patients.

“As a fellow-qualified health center, our patient population are those who are uninsured or under-insured,” Smiley said. “So having exposure for our residents to treat patients with varying health disparities, I think, creates a great opportunity for learning.”

Two others, adolescent medicine physician Dr. James Burns and Dr. Edward Kohaut, a pediatric nephrologist, will continue to practice at Sacred Heart’s main campus on North 9th Avenue.

Credit ecc.org
Chandra Smiley, ECC Executive Director.

“Keeping [the] specialists together, adolescent medicine is the specialty, as well as space limitations, we’re able to put together 16 exam rooms at the health department,” said Smiley. But adding Dr. Burns and Dr. Kohaut at the [Sacred Heart campus] location, we weren’t able to accommodate the space they needed.

Dr. Meisha Colletti, interim pediatric residency program at Children’s Hospital, says another goal of relocating is to expand patient services.

“Pediatric dental care, as well as food and nutrition assistance,” Colletti said. “Also in the same building is a women’s clinic, so that ease of accessibility of services for the mothers will also be increased at this location.”

Credit Sacred Heart Health System
Dr. Meisha Colletti, Interim Director of Children's Hospital pediatric residency program.

Access to transportation also will be improved, with ECAT’s Rosa Parks Terminal next door to the facility. Moving in with Escambia Community Clinics, says Colletti, is a good fit for both parties in sharing a common health care mission in serving the underserved community.

When the move is complete on July 5, ECC’s Chandra Smiley says their patients will receive the full spectrum of pediatric care.

“Wellness checks, acute visits, immunizations,” Smiley said. “We will have access to lab; ECC at our main site has X-Ray services and we also partner with Sacred on providing some of those diagnostic tests that the children may need.”

For more information, visit www.ecc-clinic.org, and www.sacred-heart.org/childrenshospital.