The Poinciana Health Care Clinic's loss of a $3.5 million federal grant may have helped fuel rumors that the hospital coming to Poinciana was dead on arrival. (Photo by Michael Freeman.)
POINCIANA – Rumors start in different ways, but Annette Brown-Best thinks she knows how the rumor started that Poinciana wasn’t going to get its new hospital.
“The confusion came in because of the health clinic on Doverplum Avenue,” she said.
The Poinciana Health Care Clinic on Doverplum Avenue, next to the Poinciana Public Library, just lost a $3.5 million federal grant that was going to be used to construct three new buildings on the property. Florida’s Republican-controlled Legislature, in a move aimed at criticizing the Obama Administration’s national health care plan, voted to reject any federal funding associated with ObamaCare, and that meant the loss of the health clinic grant as well.
Brown-Best said residents confused the clinic with the proposed hospital that Osceola Regional Medical Center is planning to build, the first one in Poinciana, and she said the confusion led some people to conclude that the hospital would never get built. Not true, she added.
“People thought it was the hospital, and then of course the rumor went to whether or not the hospital was really coming,” she said.
Brown-Best and Fernando Valverde are the organizers of the Friends of the Poinciana Hospital, a group formed to monitor the progress of this highly anticipated project. In an effort to put those rumors to rest, they’ve invited the new CEO of Osceola Regional Medical Center, Kathryn Gillette, to give an update on this project to the residents of Poinciana on Thursday, July 28 at 6 p.m. at the Community Center at 395 Margold Ave. Residents are encouraged to attend and ask questions of Gillette.
“Miss Gillette agreed to come to Poinciana to talk to the people to tell them where we are, and to dispel the rumors,” Brown-Best said. “That’s why we asked her to come here to talk to the people. They wanted to hear it from the hospital itself. There are some people who are cynical, but there are so many more people with hope. You have to have hope. We need the hospital to be able to get to emergency care.”
“We’re trying to eliminate some of these rumors about it,” Valverde said. “There’s a lot of doubting Thomas’ around.”
Valverde said he thinks Poinciana residents, frustrated by the high unemployment rate and battered housing market in this community of 70,000 people that cuts across Polk and Osceola counties, have become cynical and worry that things won’t turn around.
“Rumors normally start when people get — I use the word ‘desperate’,” he said. “They try to put two and two together into a five. There’s a vaccum of information, and people begin to think the worst. People just get confused. It’s not malignant, it’s just the nature of people.”
But the bottom line, he added, is that Gillette has confirmed that Osceola Regional Medical Center still plans to construct the new hospital, just perhaps not as quickly as some residents might like.
“People won’t believe it until the Earth is moved, but it’s coming,” he said. “It’s coming.”
Wendy Farrell, who has been working with Friends of the Poinciana Hospital, agreed, and noted that the Kissimmee-based Osceola Regional is a huge facility and needs to get all its permitting in place first before the proposed Poinciana hospital can get built.
“You have to remember the size of the corporation,” Farrell said. “It’s huge. What’s important to us, the Poinciana hospital, is probably somewhere down the list of their expansion plans. Just think that big wheels turn slowly.
“But they’ve invested too much to back out,” she added. “ I think it’s going to happen, it just isn’t happening fast enough.”
In the meantime, the decision to cancel the $3.5 million for the Poinciana Health Care Clinic isn’t likely to be a popular one with Poinciana voters next year.
“That’s absolute madness,” Brown-Best said. “The clinic was so busy, they have so many people coming in there. It shouldn’t be that way. We have no hospital here. Even people who are not indigent are going there, because it’s closer than going into Kissimmee. A lot of people are going to that particular clinic, and that’s why the hospital here is so, so important.”
“When it comes to the spending and our legislators saying they’re not going to support anything to do with ObamaCare, it’s politicking,” Farrell said. “To me, when you start to do that, the people who suffer are the people who need those facilities, and they should be first in our legislators’ minds. These are the people who elect them. When you mess with people’s health care, we have a lot of uninsured and underinsured who rely on that health clinic.”

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