Two VISTA volunteers funded by local churches, opened a clinic to provide healthcare for migrant farm workers in outlying rural Alachua County. It was incorporated in May of 1974 and named the Alachua County Organization for Rural Needs, Inc. (ACORN). Established as a 501(c)3 non-profit in 1976, ACORN Clinic continues to provide affordable medical care, dental care, and social service referrals primarily for low-income, uninsured and/or underinsured residents in North Central Florida.
The Dental Clinic was added in 1987. At that time it consisted of two dental chairs in an aged, donated trailer. Later a house and land were donated and the facility was remodeled to house both medical and dental exam rooms in the same structure. For several years, staff creatively managed space to accommodate over 5,000 patient encounters per year. A Capital Campaign was mounted in the late 1990s, and in 2000, a new 8-chair dental clinic was built. The medical clinic expanded into the renovated initial houses, enlarging from three exam rooms to six, adding a separate medication area and laboratory space.
The most strategic and unique feature of the ACORN Clinic is its use of volunteer physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners, and other health care professionals. Over the years, ACORN has established a lasting relationship with the nearby University of Florida Health Science Center and Santa Fe College health professional education and training programs. ACORN’s success in the development and maintaining of partnerships with private dentists and physicians, local public health units, and other agencies has been an important aspect of ACORN’s high quality care for the rural population. Strategic funding partners have been crucial to the sustaining viability of the Clinic, including the United Way of North Central Florida; Alachua, Bradford and Union Counties’ Boards of County Commissioners; foundations; professional associations; as well as local churches, businesses, and civic groups.
ACORN’s unique structure of partnerships and volunteer relationships has been recognized by several national organizations, including the Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leader Award, the Mutual of America Community Health Partnership Award, the National Rural Health Association’s Outstanding Rural Health Program of the Year award, Sapphire Award from the Florida Blue, and Florida Attorney General’s award for Health Innovation, Prevention and Management. ACORN Clinic’s volunteers and staff have also received awards for this service such as Work of Heart and the Girl Scout’s Women Who Make a Difference.
About 90% of patients are at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
Caucasian: 68%, African-American: 22%, Hispanic/Other: 10%
Under 21: 16%, Ages 21-64: 61%, Ages 65+: 23%
Alachua County 52%
Bradford County 18%