ORLANDO, Fla. – A new initiative is set to invest millions of dollars in Polk County health care.
It is set up to help those who have no insurance or are in a lower tax bracket.
Spectrum News set out to find families who could benefit and found Cristina and Justin Lively. They have six children, one of whom was diagnosed with rare bone cancer last year.
“I stopped working,” said Cristina Lively. “There are appointments every day, hospitalizations. I’m only home once or twice a week.
Lively said her son Conner was playing video games with his cousins when they noticed a bump on his leg.
“I gave him aspirin for two weeks,” Lively said. “We went to the doctor after two weeks and they said you need to go get an x-ray; I got a call that day that he had been diagnosed.
Conner, who was 11 at the time, was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer called Osteosarcoma.
“Chemotherapy is tough,” Conner said. “The hardest thing is actually not being able to go anywhere, but I make these videos for fun.”
Conner showed off his TikTok account, which was filled with funny and upbeat videos.
“I like doing these. Some are images, some are videos,” Conner said. “I like to show people that even though chemo is hard, I can still do it.”
Conner is currently being treated at Nemours Children Hospital in Orlando. Lively said she spends the night in the hospital room and Conner, her stepfather and her brothers stay at the Ronald McDonald House next door.
“We already have kids on antibiotics, prescriptions every day,” Lively said. “He has to take at least 15-20 medications.”
This is where the new health care initiative for Polk County comes into play. County leaders have invested just over $4 million to close the gap for affordable care. So while that won’t pay off Conner’s chemo treatment, it will help with other needs.
“We have six children. Anything helps,” Lively said. “Conner has been on chemo for a year. They asked me for $2,000 up front the other day and I had to tell them I couldn’t do it.”
A GoFundMe page has been created to help with billing. Click here to find out more.
The Polk County Communications Division has released this information about the new efforts:
The Polk County Board of Commissioners approved more than $4 million in primary care, dental and behavioral health services funding for indigent health services at a board meeting.
Two agreements have been approved with Central Florida Health Care, Inc.:
1. Provide primary care services to eligible low-income residents of the county (total amount not to exceed $2 million annually).
2. Provide dental services to eligible low-income county residents (total amount not to exceed $1.5 million annually).
In addition, the board approved the second amendment to the contract with Winter Haven Hospital, Inc., d/b/a Center for Behavioral Health, to provide behavioral health services (total amount not to exceed $1,022,625 annually) .
Polk County Indigent Health Services operates a local health safety net program funded by a half-cent sales surcharge. This safety net, which helps underinsured and uninsured Polk County residents access health care, is critical. Nearly 37% of Polk County residents use Medicare/Medicaid and 11.5% have no insurance (as of the 2020 census).
Primary care, dental services, and behavioral health services are available to full-time Polk County residents who are uninsured or underinsured with incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. For more information, contact Indigent Health Services at 863-533-1111 or visit https://www.polk-county.net/indigent-health-care.
GoFundMe.com, or any other third-party online fundraiser, is not operated by Spectrum Bay News 9 or Spectrum News 13. For more information on how GoFundMe works and its rules, visit http://www.gofundme.com/ safety.