North Miami, FL, June 22, 2011 --(PR.com
)-- ALERT Health, a nonprofit organization providing preventive health counseling, testing, and referral will close its office on June 30th due to funding constraints.
Founded in 1997 as “Hep-C ALERT” by Andi Thomas, a patient affected by chronic Hepatitis C, its original mission was to raise awareness and assist people affected by this insidious disease. Upon moving the organization to downtown North Miami in 2001, Thomas began offering screenings for other diseases, including HIV, sexually transmitted infection, Hepatitis B, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Her vision of providing several clinical screenings in a single visit, in a welcoming setting, and at no cost removed major barriers to preventive care and led the agency to a new name and updated mission in 2007.
Thomas’ approach proved popular with local residents, particularly uninsured young adults. Jess Bardisa, Development Director, said, “We experienced a 900% increase in client visits between 2004 and 2008 – from seeing 60 people per month to more than 600.” Bardisa explained that more than half of clients seen each month were new to the organization and nearly all were referred by other clients. “Our service philosophy created this great word-of-mouth referral network. We didn’t even advertise.” The organization has served over 33,000 people since 1997.
Thomas said, "The economic downturn and shifting public health priorities has taken its toll on our funding. I’ve done everything in my power to keep the agency running after several critical grants failed to come through in early 2009.” As one of a handful of expert Hepatitis C organizations in the country, and the only full-time HIV testing site serving the northeast sector of Miami-Dade, thousands of people will be left without a place to go. She continued, “I am deeply concerned about the void that will be left once ALERT Health closes its doors.”
“There are no other organizations in North Miami that can step in and handle the 300 plus clients we see each month, and none locally that offer support for people with Hepatitis C,” said Jon Kelly, the organization’s Project Coordinator. Thomas emphasized that “ALERT Health’s exit couldn’t come at a worse time. We just celebrated the approval of a new class of Hepatitis C drugs last month; the first major treatment breakthrough in a decade.” ALERT Health is working with local health departments to identify other organizations to refer clients to.
ALERT Health, Inc. mission is to improve health and quality of life for people affected by chronic disease, by providing accessible, integrated, preventive care. For more information, please visit www.alerthealth.org.