At long last
Dr. Pamela Lewin, M.D., D.P.H., F.A.A.F.P, Fonya Kendrick, a community health worker, and Carolyn Adams, ARNP, and CEO, left to right, pose for a photo in an exam room at the Estella Byrd Whitman Wellness and Community Resources Center on Northwest 7th Street in Ocala.
The Estella Byrd Whitman Wellness and Community Resource Center in West Ocala is back open for business, and this time it is opening its doors to patients as a medical clinic.
After a five-month coronavirus pandemic-induced closure, the center reopened Aug. 4 and has so far seen five patients, said Carolyn Adams, the organization’s founder. The center can now treat patients for diabetes, hypertension, asthma and other illnesses in the Tucker Hill neighborhood and beyond, thanks to a long-awaited rezoning that was approved by the Ocala City Council in February.
“We’re really pleased to be a medical home for individuals here,” Adams said.
Adams, who spent more than a decade working to create and open the center, said she is now focused on reaching out to more potential clients, obtaining the credentials needed to accept multiple insurance companies, and securing funding to pay the clinic’s doctor, hire staff and expand services.
The center will continue to provide informational classes, she said. And, during the pandemic, administrators plan to send out monthly flyers to ensure residents know what steps to take to protect themselves against COVID-19.
The center, a nonprofit named after Adams’ grandmother, is based in a modular building that is located at 819 NW Seventh St., where Adams’ grandmother once lived. The idea to create a clinic was the brainchild of Adams and her late husband, Arthur Adams, who announced their plans at a 2009 Governor’s West Ocala Neighborhood Revitalization Council meeting.
After several years of setbacks—including tearing down the original structure due to mold—the center opened in March 2018, five years after Arthur Adams died of a heart attack.
Now that the latest struggle, rezoning the property, is over, Adams said the center will slowly move away from a wellness center focus as it expands the medical clinic.
The clinic’s physician, Dr. Pamela Lewin, said she focuses on treating patients with the “greatest of respect,” adding that is something they might not have experienced at other medical facilities before. The clinic also accepts patients regardless of their ability to pay, she said.
“They’re not able to access the services adequately” at other clinics, Lewin said. “We want to get rid of that particular problem.”
Patients can visit the clinic to receive routine lab work, exams required for jobs or school, preventative treatment and more.
“We can treat more or less any medical illness that comes along,” Lewin added. “Whatever we would see in any other medical practice, we would see here.”
The center is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays and accepts walk-ins. Every patient must wear a mask have their temperature taken to enter the building. The center will continue to host the Langley Health Services Mobile Dental Unit on site every second and fourth Wednesday of the month.
To learn more, visit estellawellness.com.