The new Lee County WIC and Women's Health Clinic has opened its new offices and held an open house for its clients and others in the community on Oct. 7. By midday, more than 50 people had toured the large facility at 5624 8th St. West in Suite 106.
Getting there can pose a problem for motorists because the new clinic faces Lee Blvd., but there is no entrance from the roadway into the strip center. Drivers must enter Westgate Blvd., and turn right on 8th Street and drive to the Westgate Corporate Park. A large sign denotes the entrance to the site.
The new Center is located in that area. It faces the Welcome to Lehigh Sign, which is in the median strip along Lee Blvd.
At New Health Clinic. These members of the Lee County Health Department’s Women’s Clinic in Lehigh are shown from left to right, front row, Helenore Legg, Yadatnycelis Ovides, Elizabeth Thompson, Debra Monsalves and Elizabeth Hall. Back row from left to right, Marie Brown, Shirley B. West, Jim Yanes, Hilda Carrizosa, Shannon McEwen, who is director of the WIC Program. Photo by Mel Toadvine
Dr. Judith Hartner, Lee County's health officer, spent most of the day at the open house, talking to clients and others who came to see the facility.
The clinic moved from its former offices on Lee Blvd., near Leeland Heights Blvd.
Hartner said former offices were too small to serve the clientele in Lehigh.
She said 2,500 women are being seen a month at the new clinic. WIC stands for Women, and Infant Children and services there include working with pregnant mothers about such things as breastfeeding and other areas. The Center also offers family planning services and gives immunizations to children in the area.
Information about proper nutrition for these women is also a part of the program, Hartner said.
Office hours are from Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Lehigh office offers services for WIC, family planning supply visits and Health Start.
A fact sheet offered by the health department noted that as a result of their "unprecedented growth," these past few years with an increase of more than 16 percent in participation since July 2008, additional funding based on caseload allowed them to expand their services to the Lehigh Acres area.
A building was leased and staffing was increased at that site.
Hartner said the new facility accommodates twice as many people than at the old site near Leeland Heights Blvd. At the old site there was not enough room or parking space to conduct both WIC and Women's Health Services on the same day so WIC was limited to a four-day week.
"With this additional space, we can now offer Women's Health Clinic, Healthy Start and WIUC services all on the same day and serve WIC clients five days a week," Hartner said.
Some redistribution of clients from the Michigan and Pondella sites to Lehigh has occurred causing a slight decrease in the caseloads there. As this Lehigh Acres community continues to grow, Hartner said in prepared material that they expect this WIC site to be one of their larger sites.
The new clinic is located away from the central part of Lehigh where the former facility was based. It is now on the edge of western Lehigh Acres, maybe nine miles from the original site.
She said the San Carlos office in southern Lee County off Rt. 41 has also seen a large influx of clients this past year and is their fastest growing location next to Lehigh.
The Lee County Health Department provides immunization clinics from time to time. Last year, officials came to Lehigh Senior High School to administer flu shots.
Now the agency is able to provide Shots for Tots once a month in the evenings at the Lehigh Acres office.
One of the items being passed out at the open house was a slate of dates for immunizations at the Lehigh Acres new site.
Shots will be administered on Thursdays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on such dates as Nov. 4, Dec. 2, and Jan. 6. For more information, call 239-332-9601. Parents are urged to bring their child's immunization records with them on those dates.
In family planning services, the Title X program also supports three key functions, authorized under the Title X statue aimed at improving the quality of family planning services and assisting clinics with responding to client needs.
These functions, according to information supplied at the open house, include training for family planning clinic personnel through 10 regional general training programs and three national training programs hat focus on clinical training, enhancing quality family planning services for males, and/or coordination of training activities on the national level; and data collection and family planning research aimed at improving the delivery of family planning services; and information dissemination and community based education and outreach activities. These functions help to ensure that family planning services are evidence-based and of high quality, the packet stated.
The Title X family planning program is intended to assist individuals in determining the number and spacing of their children. This promotes positive birth outcomes and healthy families. The education, counseling, and medical services available in Title X-funded clinic settings assist couples in achieving these goals, the material noted.