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Health Care with a Heart

Scott Cook Photography; From left: Melissa Singh, Board Member; Jerry Kassab, Board Member; Lewis Kellom, founding Board Member; Sister Ann Kendrick, Founder; Dr. Debra Andree, current President and Chief Executive Officer; and Timothy McKinney, Board Member.

For over 50 years, Community Health Centers has been committed to delivering exceptional and affordable care throughout Central Florida.

Born out of a need to provide care for those who could not afford health care, Community Health Centers (originally called the West Orange Farmworker Health Association, or WOFHA) was first established in 1972. Under the leadership of Sister Ann Kendrick, Sister Cathy Gorman, Sister Teresa McElwee and Sister Gail Grimes, all members of Notre Dame de Namur order of Catholic Nuns, the nonprofit health organization initially endured many obstacles and opposition. A year later, after securing a federal grant, the group opened The Apopka Farmworker Clinic inside a trailer donated by the Catholic Diocese of Orlando.

In 1978, the trailer was moved to Groveland and a more permanent health center was constructed in Apopka with dental care and maternity services added in 1979. Improvements continued to be made during the 1980s, and in 1986, a third location opened in Winter Garden. In 1989, WOFHA received accreditation from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and soon became known as Community Health Centers (CHC).

Throughout the mid-1990s and early 2000s, CHC oversaw the opening of several more health centers and the corporate office moved from Apopka to Winter Garden. Since that time, the organization has continued to grow, expanding the Pine Hills Family Health Center to a larger facility, adding pediatric dental services to the site and opening the Lake Ellenor Dental Clinic. With each expansion project, barriers to high-quality affordable health care are greatly reduced.

Director of marketing and community relations, John Riordan, says in the over 10 years he has been with the organization that, “We have grown tremendously over this span by adding new centers and new services to reach even more underserved families in Central Florida.” CHC continues to expand both their services as well as the areas they serve, with Riordan noting, “This summer, we will be adding our 17th center in the West Lakes community in partnership with LIFT Orlando.”

CHC’s mission to offer compassionate care to all of the diverse communities of Central Florida truly sets them apart from other health centers. “As a federally qualified health center, we are accessible to everyone. We accept Medicaid, Medicare, private insurance plans and offer a sliding discount program that is based on family size and income,” explains Riordan.

Offering pediatrics, family medicine, women’s services, optometry, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy and more, CHC’s services are for everyone regardless of age or insurance status. “We do not refuse care due to their ability to pay,” Riordan says.

In addition, CHC makes receiving care as convenient as possible. “We offer extended hours on Mondays and Tuesdays, as well as offer Saturday hours at two of our centers. Our centers offer a ‘one-stop shop’ feel.”

As is evident in the name, community is a key component of Community Health Centers: CHC is committed to benefitting the community, and their success has been in large part due to the generosity from the Central Florida community. As a nonprofit charitable organization, CHC relies heavily on financial contributions, and “all donations made to Community Health Centers are used to directly benefit the patient through greater access to care, modernized equipment, or offering new convenient services.”

The organization’s commitment lies not just with the 70,000-plus patients it helps annually but with the entire community overall. As one of the region’s largest not-for-profit providers of health and wellness services, CHC employs nearly 600 diverse and dedicated team members and has contributed more than $123 million in economic impact on Central Florida. In an effort to continue to raise the bar on quality care, CHC voluntarily chose to be accredited by the prestigious Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care Inc. and is covered under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

Over the past five decades, Community Health Centers has built a trustworthy reputation and deeply strong bond with the neighborhoods in which it serves. The organization is well respected in the community because it adheres to a “steadfast strict moral and ethical code.” Medical providers and team members are both empathetic and compassionate to all those they serve.


Community Health Centers
Multiple locations
(407) 905-8827