Healthcare Network was awarded an emergency grant fund of $50,000 from the medical aid organization Direct Relief, in partnership with the National Association of Community Health Centers.

Healthcare Network was among 518 federally qualified health centers to receive funding through Direct Relief’s $25 million COVID-19 Fund for Community Health, which recognizes the profound effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the finances, services, staff and patients of community health centers.

Healthcare Network will use the funds to provide up to three free visits with mental health providers for essential frontline workers including but not limited to healthcare workers, protective service and first responders, grocery store workers, agricultural workers, janitors and maintenance workers, and truck drivers in Southwest Florida. The grant will support up to a total of 500 visits before Nov. 14, 2020.

“Essential frontline workers have encountered significant stressors, often including notable psychological strain, during the pandemic,” said Dr. Emily Ptaszek, president and CEO of Healthcare Network. “The sessions provide a supportive and safe space to help frontline workers maintain mental well-being and build resilience to cope with ongoing challenges. We are grateful that Direct Relief has acknowledged this need and provided support to enable Healthcare Network to care for our essential workers.”

The financial support from Direct Relief aims to safeguard frontline workers as they stretch to maintain essential services while also playing critical roles in the COVID-19 response within their communities.

A groundswell of public support from thousands of individuals, corporate leaders, and a cross-section of leading artists and professional athletes provided the financial resources that were deployed rapidly to the safety-net health centers.

“Access to primary care is what keeps people healthy and out of the hospital, and the frontline work of Healthcare Network and other nonprofit community health centers across the U.S. is more critical than ever with the onset of COVID-19,” said Direct Relief President and CEO Thomas Tighe. “Direct Relief is doing everything possible to bolster the work and support the staffs at the safety-net health facilities on which so many patients and their families rely for excellent care and trust for advice in this public health emergency.”

Nearly 30 million (1 in 12) of the country’s most vulnerable residents–including 1 in 3 individuals living in poverty, 1 in 5 Medicaid beneficiaries, and 1 in 9 children–rely on federally qualified health centers like Healthcare Network for their health care. That number is expected to rise as more people lose employer-sponsored insurance.

Frontline workers who are interested in making appointments with mental healthcare professionals at Healthcare Network should call 239-658-3185. Appointments are available via telehealth or at Healthcare Network’s Nichols Community Health Center in Golden Gate. Learn more at HealthcareSWFL.org/Direct-Relief.

About Healthcare Network

Healthcare Network is committed to ensuring quality healthcare is accessible to everyone in our community, regardless of income or insurance status. Founded in 1977 to serve migrant farmworkers and their families in Immokalee, Healthcare Network now provides care to approximately 50,000 patients through practices throughout Collier County including the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile® and the Health and Smiles Mobile units. Healthcare Network provides primary healthcare services including family care, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, senior care, and pharmacy as well as dental care and integrated behavioral health for both adults and children. The organization’s newest location, the Nichols Community Health Center, is a 51,000-square-foot primary care medical center in Golden Gate. For more information, visit www.HealthcareSWFL.org, or to schedule an appointment, please call 239-658-3000.