Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco: Medical care finally coming to Lacoochee

LACOOCHEE — A trip through this community reveals rundown homes, dirt roads and few parks. And not a single doctor's office.

That will change when the area, known for half a century as the poorest part of Pasco County, gets a 12,800-square-foot community center. Premier Community Healthcare Group Inc. has announced it will operate a primary health care clinic in the center, to be located near Stanley Park. Construction is set to begin by year's end.

"We will provide one day of primary care services each week at the onset, and will adjust hours and services provided as demand warrants," said Premier CEO Kim Schuknecht. "This is an exciting opportunity for us to be a part of."

Residents now have to travel to Premier's clinic in Dade City more than 8 miles away. A medical clinic operates in Ridge Manor about 5 miles north in Hernando County, but it doesn't accept Medicaid.

Premier, which is nonprofit and qualified to compete for government grants, accepts Medicaid, as well as Medicare and private insurance plans. It also provides pediatric care.

That will make it convenient for the 100 children who are part of the Lewis Abraham Boys & Girls Club that will occupy the community center.

"There are many people in this area who have not had access to appropriate health care," said Karen Marler, former principal at Lacoochee Elementary School and a leader of a Trilby-Lacoochee citizens group. "This has long been a goal … to provide health care (physical, mental and emotional) services to residents."

Schuknecht pointed out the statistics: Half of the adults in the 1,700 resident community lack a high school education. The median income is 55 percent lower than the countywide average. Nearly all the kids at Lacoochee Elementary School get free meals because their parents' incomes fall below the federal poverty line.

Lacoochee is home to few teachers, and the school sometimes has struggled to find instructors willing to commute there. Transportation is limited, with one county bus route beginning at Stanley Park.

"The need is great," Schuknecht said.

Once a thriving community on a major railroad line in northeast Pasco, Lacoochee never really recovered after the Cummer Cypress Co. sawmill closed in 1959. Now, the main industries are convenience stores. Visiting officials on bus tours gasp at the poor housing conditions.

The community gained prominence after the 2003 shooting death of sheriff's Lt. Charles "Bo" Harrison, killed while on patrol near a nightclub. Efforts to improve Lacoochee only have gained traction in recent years.

The community center, located just north of the football field at Stanley Park, would serve as a hub for Lacoochee. It is being paid for with $1 million from the state and private efforts spearheaded by Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative, which began serving the area in 2007 in a territory swap with Progress Energy. So far more than $900,000 has been raised.

Kids would enjoy an indoor basketball court and have easy access to play outside. There also would be a concession stand for Police Athletic League youth football games.

Access to health care, advocates say, will go a long way toward improving the quality of life.

"All the research tells us that early intervention is the key to healthy life styles," Marler said. "This is a great beginning."

This report includes information from Times files.

Pasco: Medical care finally coming to Lacoochee 07/06/12 [Last modified: Friday, July 6, 2012 8:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Romano: Sewage is the issue in this mayoral race

    Local Government

    Well, poop.

    Nothing else really matters, does it?

    Schools, economic development, public safety? Pfft. The Rays stadium, affordable housing, the Pier? Ack. When it comes to the St. Petersburg mayoral election, sewage is the yin, the yang and the yuck.

    During the St. Petersburg sewage crisis, the city's ancient sewer system released about 200 million gallons of sewage into local watersways, spurring state and federal investigations and becoming a focal point of debate among the leading mayoral candidates. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  2. Shooting sends man to hospital in St. Pete

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — Police were investigating a shooting that occurred around 4:40 p.m. on Tuesday and sent a man to the hospital.

  3. Police: Man tries to lure child with puppy in Polk County

    Crime

    Times staff

    HAINES CITY — A man was arrested Sunday after he tried to entice a young girl into his camper to view a puppy, according to police.

    Dale Collins, 63, faces a charge of luring or enticing a child under the age of 12. [Photo courtesy of the Polk County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Scaramucci on leaks: 'I'm going to fire everybody'

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — Anthony Scaramucci, President Donald Trump's new communications director, vowed Tuesday to purge the White House staff of disloyal aides in an effort to crack down on leaks, as another member of the press staff resigned from a West Wing reeling from an unfolding shake-up.

  5. Editorial: Coming together to reduce car thefts

    Editorials

    The simple, knee-jerk response to the juvenile car theft epidemic in Pinellas County would be to crack down on offenders with an increased police presence and stiffer sentences. Thankfully, local community leaders did not stop there. As detailed in a recent Tampa Bay Times follow-up to its 
As detailed in a recent Tampa Bay Times follow-up to its "Hot Wheels" investigation into youth car thefts, a variety of ideas from multiple directions increases the odds of actually solving the cause and not just treating the symptoms.