Pastor Gerard Duncan, of Prayers By Faith Outreach Ministries, has been advocating for the underserved since he arrived in Gainesville more than three decades ago. His Northwest Fourth Street church is housed in the Old Mount Carmel Baptist Church, a National Register of Historic Places site that was a magnet for Gainesville’s civil rights movement.
Against that backdrop, Duncan said he is encouraged by officials’ commitment to improve health and economic disparities in Alachua County. UF Health’s Screen, Test & Protect program during the COVID-19 pandemic had a strong emphasis on outreach to traditionally underserved communities, he said. Likewise, the urgent care center project is another sign of a deep, renewed commitment from local government and UF Health leaders.
“It’s one of the most well-thought-out projects the city and county could have done with UF. It is going to change the trajectory of quality of life for people in East Gainesville,” he said.
As Duncan’s roots grew in the community over the years, so did his awareness of the many chronic diseases that are prevalent in East Gainesville, such as diabetes, cancer and high blood pressure. To address that, work is underway to bring the community resource paramedicine program, or CRP, to the urgent care center site.
Gainesville Fire Rescue’s CRP aims to reduce overuse of paramedic and emergency room services by pairing frequent 911 users and other vulnerable patients with resources to help them better self-manage their care. During a six-month period in 2020, the CRP program in other city neighborhoods reduced emergency room use and hospital admissions by 28% and 62%, respectively.
A CRP presence is a welcome addition to the East Gainesville urgent care site, Duncan noted.
“Tailoring health care to the needs of specific communities will greatly benefit the East Gainesville community,” he said.
Duncan said he got to know UF Health leaders and physicians during his work with the Screen, Test & Protect Program. That program showed him the sincerity and depth of their commitment to doing more for traditionally underserved areas. And it opened a welcoming door for him to make the case for an East Gainesville urgent care center.
He said, “At that moment, I knew my voice was heard.”