New wellness center coming to the West Lakes community

Community members held a ribbon cutting Friday morning for the new Heart of West Lakes Wellness Center coming to the West Lakes community this spring. 

The center will bring together health resources and put them all under one roof for neighboring communities. 

FOX 35 got an exclusive behind the scenes tour of the new facility ahead of the ribbon cutting and opening. 

There will be a Black-owned restaurant, financial planning center, event space, and a health insurance resource office with Florida Blue. 

"This will be a community health center office. Medical care for residents, primary care and other health care services. We are really excited about a new low-cost pharmacy for residents," said Demetrius Summerville, Director of Operations, Lift Orlando.

The full-service healthcare center by Community Health Centers, Inc. will provide health, vision, preventative care, and more regardless of insurance coverage

An invaluable resource for the community. 

"In America today, your zip code is the number one predictor of life outcomes for us," said Eddy Moratin, President of Lift Orlando. 

Eddy Moratin is the President of Lift Orlando. The organization works with the 5 historically Black neighborhoods that make up the 32805 zip code -- where this center will open.

It’s an area rich with promise, but the agency says the U.S. Department of Agriculture has identified the 32805 zip code as a food desert and the most distressed ZIP code in Central Florida.

Lift Orlando pointed to a 2016 study which found the area had 12 healthcare access points. Those are your gyms, pharmacies, health food stores, urgent care facilities. Compare that to Winter Park's 32789 zip code that had 112. 

"Why it seemed so unjust that the world seemed so different coming across those railroad tracks from downtown," said Moratin, "Didn't want to be busy treating symptoms. Wanted to find ways to actually solve problems in partnership with the community." 

Lift Orlando says the goal was figuring out how to combat the healthcare disparities in the Black neighborhoods. The agencies coming together believe this state-of-the art center is exactly what the doctor ordered.

"This space represents a home of legacy and pride and community leadership," said Moratin. 

Lift Orlando worked with AdventHealth, Orlando Health, Dr. Phillips Charities, Florida Blue, Truist Foundation, Trisons Foundation and The Diebel Family for the project. 

The wellness center is located on Tampa Ave in Orlando and will officially open to the community this Spring. Organizers are also excited because it will add at least 40 new jobs to the local community.