This week we chat with Debbie Meegan, 60, who has lived in Brandon for more than 30 years. She has spent the last 12 of those years as the executive director of the Brandon Outreach Clinic.
The clinic provides medical care for residents of the greater Brandon area who are not eligible for public health assistance, but also cannot afford basic medical care. For more information, call (813) 654-1388 or visit www.brandonoutreachclinic.com.
Q: What is the biggest misconception about the clinic?
Answer: I think the greatest misconception is that you have to be without income to been seen at the clinic. Most of our patients have income of some sort but don't have enough income to afford health insurance or pay for medical care. We offer free medical care to "the working poor."
Q: Are there any health care issues that seem to be specific or prominent to the greater Brandon area?
Answer: The large population of uninsured due to the rising cost of health insurance and health care is the most pressing issue we deal with. This problem is not unique to the greater Brandon area, it is an issue that our whole county has been struggling with for many years.
Q: What are some of the toughest, non health care-related challenges you face at the clinic as executive director?
Answer: The toughest challenge for me is raising money for the clinic. We have wonderful volunteers who donate their time but we rely on local financial support to cover the cost of running the medical clinic. There are a lot of people in need of medical care the more donations we receive, the more people we can help.
Q: What is Brandon Outreach Clinic's biggest need and how can people help?
Answer: Our biggest need is resources. We need financial donations to purchase medications and pay for lab work for our patients. We need medical providers to donate their time and talent to help those in need. If everyone in Brandon gave something, we could provide more life-saving health care to those in need. You don't have to be a doctor to save a life.
Q: You work alongside terrific medical professionals every day, but who is your favorite fictional doctor or nurse?
Answer: My favorite fictional doctor was Dr. Doug Ross from the old television show "ER." Why? Because he was played by George Clooney. (Need I say more?)
- John Ceballos