For the last 26 years, Metro Wellness and Community Centers has offered HIV and other health care services to the LGBTQ community and those with limited or no insurance.
In 2019, the Pinellas-based nonprofit hopes to expand its reach in Tampa Bay with a new name and a revamping of its headquarters.
Metro is now known as Metro Inclusive Health, which officials say better represents its mission. The organization will host a grand opening of its recently renovated 47,000-square-foot headquarters and clinic, located in the Historic Kenwood District in downtown St. Petersburg, on Feb. 9. In addition to an expanded clinic and pharmacy, the center has a new event hall and a co-working office space.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: HIV is on the rise in Florida and young people don't seem to care
"In our founding days, we served many that were not included in traditional health care channels," said Metro CEO, Lorraine Langlois. "Since then, inclusivity has been a guiding theme for the organization in many ways."
That means the group expects its upgraded quarters to attract new patients with insurance, in addition to growing its services to the uninsured, the underinsured, and people in the LGBTQ community.
"We wanted to create a space where every patient would feel comfortable, from someone who has stable income and health insurance to a patient who does not," said Brian Bailey, vice president of marketing and communications at Metro. "Every patient who comes to Metro for appointments and has insurance is giving back to the organization so we can serve those who don't have insurance."
In 2018, Metro served more than 18,000 patients from four centers across Tampa Bay, and the demand continues to surge, Langlois said. So the group spent the last year looking for ways to support that growth.
Federal grants, once a reliable revenue stream for health care services, "have dried up," Langlois said. However, Metro plans to apply this year to become a federally qualified health center, a reimbursement designation from national health agencies like Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Department of Health and Human Services.
The co-working and event hall space will serve as an experimental new revenue stream for the organization. The appeal, Langlois said, comes from the center's central Kenwood location, where several apartment complexes are currently under construction on the same block.
The 10,000-square-foot hall offers on-site parking, presentation and lighting technology and an outdoor area with activities. When the space isn't rented, Metro will use it to house its programs serving LGBTQ youth, seniors and others.
The co-working space will allow professionals to rent a desk or office space, and offer conference amenities.
Metro partnered with CAN Community Health, a Sarasota-based HIV health care nonprofit, to purchase and renovate the St. Petersburg facility. Funding also came from individual donors.
In addition to the St. Petersburg improvements, Metro has some big plans for 2019. The organization is renovating its clinic in New Port Richey and has plans to expand in Tampa. It also hopes to launch a telemedcine app that patients can use to schedule appointments and order prescriptions, Langlois said.
Contact Justine Griffin at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8467. Follow @SunBizGriffin.
Metro Inclusive Health grand reopening:
When: Saturday, Feb. 9, 2-6 p.m.
Where: 3251 Third Ave. N, Suite. 125
• 1315 E Seventh Ave., Ste. 201, Ybor City
• 2349 Sunset Point Road, #405, Clearwater
• 4747 U.S. 19, New Port Richey