By Hope Woodson
St. Petersburg Free Clinic is now offering a wider variety of free educational classes to help people with diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease to manage their conditions beyond the use of medications.
People like Carol, a Gulfport resident with Type 2 diabetes, have been visiting the Free Clinic’s Health Education Center since it opened in June 2019. Carol came to the Center when she became very ill with multiple health needs, resulting in taking extensive time off of work. She later lost her job and health insurance. The Free Clinic has since met Carol’s medical needs, providing her with access to doctors, nurses, cooking classes, and the support of new friends.
The Health Education Center has room for 25 people with activities that include:
Cooking demonstrations. Interactive cooking classes that range from topics like “The skinny on fats” to “How to make a salad into a meal.” The Free Clinic staff has found that patients often buy or receive fresh food and vegetables, but aren’t sure how to properly cook them and incorporate them into their diets, so this class was created to teach patients how to cook healthy meals with the resources they have on hand.
Fitness classes. Participants follow light workouts and stress reduction activities such as Yoga and Tai Chi to manage their chronic conditions and boost their overall health.
Education series. Small group sessions are available to educate participants on topics like smoking cessation, the importance of dental care, and how to properly check blood pressure. The small group environment allows Health Education Center patients to get individualized attention and techniques to manage their unique health conditions.
Previously, the Free Clinic offered its health education services in the lobby of its Health Center, but the space only allowed one class each week with a limited capacity of participants. Now, St. Petersburg residents who want to live healthier lives can enjoy activities in a dedicated space that includes a state-of-the-art teaching kitchen.
The Health Education Center, located at 5501 4th St. N. (next to the Free Clinic’s Health Center), provides free primary health care for low-income, uninsured adults in Pinellas County who have little means to receive adequate health care.
Last year alone, over 9,000 points of service were provided by the Free Clinic’s Health Center and over $3.1 million of retail value prescription drugs were acquired for patients.
Visit https://stpetersburgfreeclinic.org/health-education/ to learn more about the Health Education Center.
Hope Woodson is the health center director of the Health Center and Health Education Center at St. Petersburg Free Clinic. The Free Clinic is a multi-service, independent, not-for-profit human services agency providing neighbors in need assistance with food, shelter and health care since 1970. Find out more about St. Petersburg Free Clinic at www.StPetersburgFreeClinic.org.