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Updated: 10/23/2014 12:20:22PM

Samaritan’s Touch Care Center here was a noble effort

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A noble effort ends Friday when Samaritan’s Touch Care Center closes the doors of its Lake Placid satellite office. For almost two years, the center provided free primary and specialized medical and dental care for local indigent families.

The services won’t go away, but those needy patients will have to travel to the STCC facility north of Sebring for care.

“This was a difficult decision to make, however as a last resort, free health care provider, we must make some tough decisions, in order to be fiscally responsible and to ensure the long term sustainability of our organization,” Operations Director Heather Stephenson said.

It’s no surprise to many Lake Placid residents that the STCC satellite office will close Friday. There was little activity at the facility for several months, causing some to question if the STCC office was still seeing local patients.

The Lake Placid office opened to much fanfare in 2011. Local residents and businesses responded to a call for office and basic medical supplies; and many volunteered to staff the office. Then, gradually, support slipped away and the center faced financial struggles.

But, Stephenson said, STCC remains committed to meeting the needs of Lake Placid patients. The delivery model will be a bit different, she said, but medical care for the needy will remain available. Patients will be seen by volunteer medical professionals in the community. Those needing more specialized care will be seen at the Sebring facility.

There is a plan in place for those who cannot afford — or lack transportation — for the journey to the Sebring STCC offices. Positive Medical Transport will provide free transportation to the north campus for those in need. The offer was extended by Ron Layne, president of Positive Medical Transport.

Layne and his company should be commended for extending medical transportation to Lake Placid’s needy families.

STCC still needs the support of Lake Placid to help the Sebring staff continue care for the needy across Highlands County. Development Director Rachel Nawrocki said every one dollar donated to STCC provides over 10 dollars in medical care to patients. Since its inception in 2007, STCC has provided over $22 million dollars in health care services to thousands of Highlands County’s most at risk residents

The closing of the Lake Placid office doesn’t mean STCC has stepped away from Lake Placid’s needy. Stephenson and Nawrocki stress that STCC remains committed to bringing hope and healing to the uninsured and medically indigent.

Despite the demise of the Lake Placid office, we urge area residents to renew their support of Samaritan’s Touch Care Center. The needs are real and the cause is sincere.

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