By Glenda Spears
North Florida Education Development Corporation (NFEDC) was selected as the community based organization to lead the way on the Gulf Regional Health Outreach Program (GRHOP) for the five northwestern Florida counties affected by the BP drilling disaster. Early in the process NFEDC began attending meetings of groups and organizations who were already formed to address particular needs and concerns within their particular communities. This initial outreach allowed NFEDC to become acquainted with many of the people who were already leading the charge around health care and services within the communities they would be charged to work with.
The five county target area – comprising Escambia, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, and Bay – is one of the largest areas covered by GRHOP. These counties have high concentrations of the working poor, persons who work every day and struggle to make ends meet and provide the basic necessities for their families. GRHOP will help expand health care access to these and other families.
On December 19, 2012, NFEDC and Louisiana Public Health Institute hosted a convening in San Destin, FL of local, area, and state leadership representing health care providers, community service providers, and residents. Participants, numbering over 50, were asked to identify the top ten community health needs and barriers to getting these needs meet. There was a great deal of work done by the group in a short period of time and several new partnerships were made to further this great work along. The efforts of NFEDC have begun the critical ground work necessary for the success of the program, and everyone is excited about what this will mean for the people of Florida.