About: History

It is hard to believe that an organization our size started as a simple health clinic operating out of a single-wide trailer in Apopka back in December 1972. We have come a long way since then.

Community Health Centers History

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 healthcare they couldn’t afford. The original staff included a Nurse’s Aide, a Medical Director, and an Administrative Director.

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 1980’s.

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 by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organization in 1989 and a name change to Community Health Centers, Inc., soon followed.

During the mid 1990’s, 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 2000’s, 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 2000’s, 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.

CHC is proud to have received accreditation by 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.

Timeline of Events

1972
West Orange Farmworkers Health Association founded by local farm workers, consumer activists and the Sisters of Notre Dame saw the need to help the underprivileged in the area.

1973
The farm workers trailer clinic opened in Apopka. The first medical team consisted of a doctor, nurse and an assistant.

1976
Bishop Borders Satellite Health Center opened to serve Winter Garden area farm workers 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.

1978
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 farm workers in Groveland.

1979
Childbirth services initiated at the Apopka Family Health Center with deliveries at Florida Hospital and dental services were added.

1983
Permanent Groveland Family Health Center was constructed. Patient contributions and farmworker fundraising led by board members provided the funds to furnish the new center.

1986
All sites increased medical staff to create hospital service rotation.

1989
Accreditation by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations makes us Florida’s first and only JACHO accredited community health organization.

1990
West Orange Farmworkers Health Association changes its name to Community Health Centers, Inc., to better reflect our mission of service to all the community.

1992
Winter Garden Children’s Health Center opened to provide children services in a supportive and caring environment. CHC – County Public Health services integrated to include outreach, early enrollment, teen pregnancy classes, drug treatment, and March of Dimes Community Support Network.

1993
Leesburg Women’s Health Center opens for service. CHC initiates Community Relations Program with priority goals of educating Medicaid and Medicare recipients and area employers.

1994
Groveland Family Health Center’s renovation project was completed.

1995
Leesburg Family Health Center opened.

1996
Apopka Children’s Health Center opened.

2000
Pine Hills Family Health Center, a public-private partnership, began providing services.

2001
Eatonville Family Health Center opened.

2002
Health Alliance Family Care Center opens – Winter Garden Family and Children’s Health Center relocated into the new 22,000 square-foot facility, and CHC corporate head quarters moved from Apopka to Winter Garden.

2004
The Pine Hills Family Health Center relocated into the Princeton Plaza, expanding from a 4,000 sq. ft. facility into a 19,155 sq. ft. space & added Pediatric Dental services.

2007
Lake Ellenor Dental Clinic opened offering Pediatric & Adult Dental services.

2011
Apopka Dental Center offering Pediatric and Adult dental services opens. Our new Groveland center opens in Groveland, offering Family Medicine, Pediatric Medicine, Dental and Pharmacy. Bithlo Child and Adult Medical Care opens.

2012
Meadow Woods Children’s Medical & Dental Care opens.

2014
Winter Garden Child, Adult Medical & Dental Care has been relocated to a more accessible and larger center offering evening and Saturday hours. Added services include Optometry and children’s dental.

2015
Rosemont Children’s Medical Care opens.

2015
Tavares Child • Adult Medical & Dental Care opens.

2016
Forest City Child • Adult Medical & Dental Care opens with additional services brought to the area.

2017
The Pine Hills Health Center relocated to it’s own building at 840 Mercy Drive, less than 2 miles East of their previous location.