Shepherd’s Hope is the leading voice for the uninsured and underinsured in Central Florida, raising awareness of the issues they face and providing access to free high quality, compassionate medical care. Its work also benefits the region’s business community and broader health care system by helping lower the cost of health insurance and unburdening an already strained health care system.
This faith-based organization of volunteers was founded in 1997 by Dr. William S. Barnes, senior pastor of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, as a grassroots effort to solve a community issue. Driven by the notion that “none of us knows how to do it all, but all of us know how to do some of it,” Dr. Barnes united the community to bring health care to those in need, raising critical dollars, while volunteer doctors and nurses treated patients in donated space at the Westside Vocational Technical School in Winter Garden.
Today, that vision has evolved with Shepherd’s Hope as the largest free and charitable clinic in Florida, both in the number of locations and patient capacity, and as a nationallyrecognized nonprofit health and human services agency. It relies on an extensive collaboration with three Central Florida hospitals systems (Florida Hospital, Orlando Health and Nemours), hundreds of diagnostic and specialty care providers, 23 multi-faith congregations, community organizations, foundations and corporations to fulfill its mission to provide free health care to the region’s most at-risk, vulnerable populations.
Shepherd’s Hope provides healthcare services, education and wellness programs to uninsured families across Central Florida. Patients eligible for services through Shepherd’s Hope must meet one of the following criteria:
Shepherd’s Hope contributes directly to Central Florida’s health care economy by mitigating the financial impact to hospitals and health care providers for the services they provide to uninsured and indigent patients. The average cost of an emergency department visit in Central Florida is approximately $4,600; whereas the cost for a patient visit at a Shepherd’s Hope is the equivalent of $241. Without the option of Shepherd’s Hope, 22.3 percent of patients served in 2017 (3,820 patients) said they would otherwise be forced to seek care at an area emergency department, resulting in a cost savings of $17.6 million to the Central Florida healthcare system.
Shepherds Hope benefits businesses by medically caring for the workforce and helping to keep health care insurance costs down. The faces of the uninsured are changing. They are exactly who you think they are and exactly who you wouldn’t imagine them to be. In 2017, nearly 43% of Shepherds Hope’s patients were working individuals who fell into an income or insurance benefit gap.
Given the never-ending unpredictability surrounding the issue of health care, there will always be a need for free and charitable health care clinics like Shepherd’s Hope. Helping meet this need will be our new West Orange Medical Clinic and Administration Center. When completed in 2018, it will provide additional critically needed access to healthcare for the uninsured in our community just as Dr. Barnes envisioned 21 years ago.