SPRING HILL — Five years after it opened in a small Brooksville storefront, Crescent Community Clinic is growing once again.
The nonprofit clinic gathered volunteers, benefactors and supporters last week to announce a 1,064-square-foot expansion of its premises in Winchester Plaza.
By Nov. 1, in the unit next door to the existing clinic, Crescent will add three examination rooms, a lab, an office and a reception area to the currently occupied 2,369 square feet into which it relocated in 2011.
Showing visitors the premises and referring to the expansion blueprints, Dr. Husan Abuzarad, the clinic's founder and chief medical officer, said: "It was beyond my imagination from when we started five years ago — with 40 to 50 patients and struggled to make the rent — to this amazing place.
"When you start with a good thing, the people come," Abuzarad added, mentioning the volunteer doctors, dentists, pharmacists, psychiatrists and patients.
Abuzarad and three other internal medicine specialists launched the project in 2008 to fill what they saw as a community need: providing health care and health education to indigent, uninsured and underinsured adults in Hernando County. The quartet also included Drs. Mohammad Joud, Abdala Kamara and Allam Reheem.
While the doctors were of Arab descent, the clinic opened its arms to all, regardless of faith or ethnicity. Soon, the founders were joined by medical professionals of all stripes and specialties.
"Getting patients is not a problem," Abuzarad said.
When the Saturdays-only, walk-in clinic moved from its limited space in a Brooksville shopping plaza to its current site, the patient load demanded the scheduling of appointments and, eventually, extended office hours to all weekdays except Thursdays.
"Now our waiting list is three months," Abuzarad said.
The medical chief credited some of the growth to Barbara Sweinberg. She has written successful applications for grants to buy consumable supplies and pay operational costs.
Sweinberg, the clinic's director of services, provided several details about the expansion and some telling statistics:
• The expansion will cost an estimated $22,000 to $25,000. Sponsors are sought for funding some of the work, including $5,000 for an exam room or up to $2,500 for consumables.
• During the past fiscal year, patient face-to-face visits numbered 7,129.
• Fifty-one licensed health care professionals provided 16,668 hours for service, with a value of about $3.9 million.
• One hundred seventy general staff volunteers donated 61,913 hours with a value of $235,683.
• Sixteen state Department of Health volunteers provided 1,322 hours of service valued at $16,362.
Sweinberg said the clinic's aim is to "try to keep people out of the (hospital) emergency room who need chronic health care." Medical care is directed at long-term health needs such as asthma, arthritis, cancer, diabetes and hypertension.
"We're not here for flu," she stressed.
If a particular health specialist is required with none on staff, the clinic seeks to pair the patient with such a specialist in the doctor's office.
The clinic includes a licensed nutritionist to counsel patients with diabetes, hypertension and obesity.
Also, patients who smoke are required to take part in clinic-sponsored smoking cessation classes.
Auxiliary services include signing up for food stamps and enrolling financially qualified patients in reduced-cost medication programs offered by pharmaceutical manufacturers.
Beth Gray can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.