Alachua County Organization for Ruarl Needs Inc., ACORN, was started in 1974 by two Gainesville churches—Westminster Presbyterian and the United Church of Gainesville. It was the vision of the Pastors of both churches, two VISTA Volunteers, and a registered nurse to establish a health clinic in an area where there was a great need for health services. Although the clinic was the vision of only a few people, it took many dedicated people to bring it into fruition. Initially, the clinic was started to bring medical services to migrant workers and residents of the northwestern section of Alachua County. Health professionals willing to volunteer their time allowed the clinic to open.
In 1975, the town of Lacrosse donated the use of the Lacrosse Women’s club building and provided utilities to allow the clinic to open once a week from 7:30 p.m.-10:00 p.m. Eventually, the medical clinic was opened in 1976 in a small, rural community outside of Brooker. In 1978, ACORN hired 4 full time employees with the help of grand funding. The dental clinic was opened in a trailer next to the medical clinic in 1982. 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.
ACORN dental clinic first started out operating in a donated trailer and today is a modern full-service facility featuring 16 dental chairs. Our services include full restorative care, pediatric dentistry, and oral hygiene outreach education.
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.
In 2014, ACORN Clinic celebrated four decades of providing low-priced quality care to those in need. The ACORN Clinic family would like to thank everyone who made this clinic a success since 1974. Reminisce with us through our 40th Anniversary Scrapbook with timeless photos and success stories from volunteers and patients of the ACORN Clinic. We hope to continue to serve our community as you grow with us. See the 40th Anniversary ACORN clinic scrapbook
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