The Humble Beginnings of Community Health Centers
Originally called the West Orange Farmworker Health Association (WOFHA), we incorporated in 1972 as a non-profit health organization “to be operated by and for its consumers.” Although experiencing many obstacles and opposition, the WOFHA secured a federal grant and opened a clinic in a trailer donated by the Catholic Diocese of Orlando.
The Apopka Farmworker Clinic began operation under the leadership of Sister Cathy Gorman, Sister Ann Kendrick, Sister Teresa McElwee, and Sister Gail Grimes, all members of Notre Dame de Namur order of Catholic Nuns, in 1973. Their mission was to provide the underserved in the community access to the healthcare they couldn’t afford.
The original staff only included a Nurse’s Aide, a Medical Director, and an Administrative Director.
Expanding Our Reach Throughout Central Florida
After outgrowing the trailer, a permanent health center was constructed in 1978 at the corner of Forest Avenue and Seventh Street in Apopka on land donated by members of the Presbyterian Church in Maitland. The trailer was put to good use and moved to Groveland to serve south Lake County. Dental care and maternity services were added in 1979. Improvements to the facility, including a modern dental suite and expanded x-ray and pharmacy areas, were added in the early 1980s.
In 1986, WOFHA opened its third location in Winter Garden and the organization began to grow with an increase in medical providers and offering extended hours. WOFHA received accreditation from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organization in 1989 and a name change to Community Health Centers, Inc., soon followed.
During the mid-1990s, CHC saw the opening of the Leesburg Women’s Health Center, Leesburg Family Health Center, and the Apopka Children’s Health Center. In the early 2000s, the Pine Hills Family Health Center began providing services, the Eatonville Family Health Center opened, Winter Garden Family, Children’s and Dental Health Center relocated to where they are today and the Corporate office moved from Apopka to Winter Garden. During the mid-2000s, the organization began to grow even more and expanded the Pine Hills Family Health Center to a larger facility, added Pediatric Dental services to the site, and opened the Lake Ellenor Dental Clinic.
Community Health Centers is proud to have received accreditation from the prestigious Accreditation Association of Ambulatory Health Center, Inc (AAAHC). In an effort to create brand awareness and recognition, we changed our center names to include our corporate name, Community Health Centers.
Our history proves our commitment to expand our services and service area. We continue to look for areas in need to serve the uninsured, underinsured and insured alike.
History by the Year
West Orange Farmworkers Health Association founded by local farmworkers, consumer activists, and the Sisters of Notre Dame saw the need to help the underprivileged in the area.
The farmworkers trailer clinic opened in Apopka. The first medical team consisted of a doctor, nurse, and assistant.
Bishop Borders Satellite Health Center opened to serve Winter Garden area farmworkers and residents. Dental care was also provided. That same year West Orange Farmworkers Health Association became a comprehensive primary care model, expanding to include pharmacy, laboratory, and dental services.
Our first permanent health center was constructed in Apopka, where it still is to this present day. The Apopka trailer clinic was relocated to serve farmworkers in Groveland.
Childbirth services initiated at the Apopka Family Health Center with deliveries at Advent Health and dental services were added.
Permanent Groveland Family Health Center was constructed. Patient contributions and farmworker fundraising led by board members provided the funds to furnish the new center.
All sites increased medical staff to create hospital service rotation.
Accreditation by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations makes us Florida’s first and only JACHO accredited community health organization.