Archer Family Health Care
Archer, Florida is a sleepy little town some 15 miles from Gainesville. There’s one red light and one gas station and many of the streets remain unpaved North Florida dirt since the town’s founding in 1850. The University of Florida College of Nursing (CON) has been working for more than 40 years in the Archer community starting with community health nursing student rotations back in the 1970s. It’s no surprise that when the town approached UF to seek healthcare for its rural, and often poor citizens, Gator Nurses stepped up. After two years of hard work to obtain recurring funding from the state, the CON opened a clinic on January 16, 2001 in what is now called “The Little House”. As Dee Williams–then Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs liked to say, this was a “Mom and Mom” operation with a family nurse practitioner, office manager, CON financial officer and herself (all “moms”) spearheading access to primary care for a vastly underserved rural population.
By 2007 the original clinic was too small for the growing patient population and growing services offered by the college. Another round of fundraising and commitment by the College of Nursing resulted in a new building, with over 5000 square feet of space. Service expansion included additional family nurse practitioners to handle patient volume, LPNs to support patient care, and the addition of a part time physician who just happened to have been a UF BSN graduate before she went to medical school. Grant funding was sought and obtained enabling a case manager and the implementation of an electronic health record; a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner also joined the team. When the roof leaked on the new clinic, donors even stepped up to cover the cost of repairs.
Today this nurse-led, rural health clinic serves about 1500 unique patients with over 5000 patient encounters each year. Nurse midwives now provide prenatal care and financial assistance counselors are on site to help patients find resources whenever possible. Federal grants are written and submitted continuously to help sustain and expand services in this underserved community.
Archer Family Health Care is the only healthcare provider in the area and patients without insurance find rides from cities and small towns surrounding Archer in order to get the care they need. Most do not have cars and public transportation is not available so they lean on family and friends to get them to the clinic. Some come by bicycle and even a few may arrive on horseback!
Providing access to patient care and health professions student training are the primary goals for this rural clinic. Patients depend on the clinic to help them connect to pharmacy assistance programs in order to obtain needed medications at no or low cost. Clearly, the UF College of Nursing has remained steadfast in its commitment to the health of this population, stepping up to fill a huge gap in services, in the shadows of the live oak trees in north central Florida.