than half of the
patients seen in
treated for the
“It’s just been a
ferocious flu season
with so many different strains,” Harrison said,
adding that she suffered through it herself in January.
“The countless hours of dedicated volunteers have
brought us to where we are today.”
On any given Monday or Thursday evening, there
are patients waiting in the parking lot before the
Dr. Rob Gutierrez was on duty the night we visited
the clinic for a tour. He’s been involved with the
organization since day one. Dr. Gutierrez arrived
straight from his practice in North Port, and saw
15 patients that January evening in
“There can be certain psycho-social
issues happening when people are sick,
so I like to spend a little time with each
patient, just like I would at my own
practice,” Gutierrez said.
There are two exam rooms, and two
nurses are on duty each evening at the clinic:
one for intake evaluation and one for discharge.
The doctor sees the patients in between, and after
they can choose to speak with a patient advocate
specialist who helps find low cost medications prescribed
to the patients.
The Englewood Community Care Clinic is able to
operate thanks to numerous volunteers serving in
both clinical and non-clinical roles.
The mission has been a success since its inception,
and a new building that will offer 1,000 more square
feet of additional space is expected to be completed
on the property by May, 2018. The hope is to be able
to build an additional examination room, and also be
able to provide dental services.
“We need to raise $53,000 to furnish it, which
hopefully, we can do by this summer,” Harrison said.
“We already have several local dentists who have
agreed to volunteer their time for cleanings, fillings
and extractions – which are the three biggest needs
we’re seeing right now.”
Harrison said once the new building is complete,
she hopes to recruit more help and expand the
March/April 2018 GASPARILLA ISLAND 39
The doctors approached Bob Melvin, Real
Estate Broker at Gulf Coast International Properties,
and asked if he would like to be involved.
Melvin became the first board member for the
organization and has been involved since 2009.
“The Virginia B. Andes clinic was going so
successfully, and we knew many of the patients
were coming from Englewood, so we understood
there was a big need in the community,” Melvin
The Board of Directors obtained 501(c)3
status in November 2010. The clinic officially
opened January 17, 2011.
The clinic has had more than 7,000 visits in the
last seven years, treating nearly 3,000 patients.
“We’re very blessed to have some of the best
doctors in the area,” Dr. James said. “We’ve
talked about expanding services, because
we know there are many
young healthy couples in the
community who are choosing
to go without coverage
because of the cost. And the
long-term problems that can
eventually happen from avoiding
medical treatment can be irreversible.”
Dr. James said the physicians at the clinic
focus on wellness, starting with prevention, treatment
and follow up.
“We want to have conversations that promote
options for people to live healthier lives,” he said.
“It’s not just about medications, but lifestyle
changes and natural products that can help with
Englewood Community Care Clinic’s Executive
Director Beth Harrison said unfortunately, on
some evenings it’s just not possible to treat every
patient, due to lack of resources.
“We have about 70 volunteers, including the
doctors, nurses and administrative help, but
everyone works at a different pace,” she said.
“Some of our doctors spend extra time with
patients depending on their circumstances and
needs, so the number of patients we see each
Harrison has lived in Englewood for 30 years.
Prior to joining the Englewood Community Care
Clinic, she spent 10 years with the Gulf Coast
Community Foundation of Venice, Florida’s
largest community foundation. She said more