LONGWOOD, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Free back to school physicals for uninsured children are being offered in Central Florida through Shepherd’s Hope, which is the largest free and charitable clinic in Florida.
All of the doctors are donating time out of their busy schedules to make sure hundreds of uninsured children get off on the right foot to start the school year.
“If we didn’t have Shepherd’s Hope, he probably would’ve been postponed from going in the first grade,” mother Brittany Howard said.
It’s a sad reality for thousands of families that can not afford a required school physical.
“His insurance is limited,” Howard said.
Shepherd’s Hope estimates that 27,000 uninsured children live in Central Florida. So for the past four years they have been stepping up to get kids seen by pediatricians like Dr. Al Torres from Nemours Children’s Hospital.
“Sometimes we discover that they have problems with vision, their hearing – and that’s important for them to address before they go back to school,” Torres said.
Most children that come through this clinic are checked off as healthy, but those that need extra care are referred to a specialist.
Just this week for the free back to school physicals, the clinic predicts they will see 500 patients.
They said that the number grows every year.
Official said many families from Puerto Rico are also now living in Central Florida following last year’s devastating hurricanes.
“It is a problem,” said Marni Stahlman, President and CEO of Shepherd’s Hope. We are a state that has failed to expand Medicaid.”
At Shepherd’s Hope they focus on the solution, which is making sure students get a healthy start to the school year.
“We don’t have the resources to get his school physical otherwise,” Howard said.
Free children’s physicals are by appointment only and will be available until August 1.