Published Wednesday, June 21, 2023

For the second year in a row, the Osceola Council on Aging’s ‘free clinic’ was awarded a 2023 Gold Rating from the National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics (NAFC) Quality Standards Program. This recognition comes after implementing broadened patient care policies and procedures for our Kissimmee clinic at the OCOA campus.

“We are truly honored for this Gold Rating from the National Association of Free Clinics. It is an incredible feeling to be placed in such a distinguished group of fellow clinics,” said Kelly Bender, OCOA Clinic Care Coordinator.

The tasks to earn this Gold Rating status included expanding protocols related to clinic and pharmacy responsibilities, credentialing, patient care, and elevated risk management systems.

The NAFC is the only nonprofit organization in the United States whose mission is solely focused on the needs of our nation’s medically underserved residents. With more than 1,400 Free and Charitable Clinics nationwide, along with Charitable Pharmacies, the NAFC programs provide a wide range of support including funding, education, training, advocacy, and disaster relief.

“Our Quality Standards were created to quantify and qualify the care provided at Free and Charitable,” NAFC President & CEO Nicole Lamoureux said. “The Osceola Council on Aging is recognized as a Gold Rating clinic due to their continued positive impact and service for seniors, disabled adults, the disadvantaged, and families in poverty in their community.”

According to the NAFC, a Gold Rating recognition proves a clinic’s commitment to nonprofit management excellence as well as a dedication to providing compassionate and effective healthcare in their community, and “attributes heavily provided by the OCOA free clinic,” Bender added.

In 2022 the Kissimmee clinic provided care to more than 1,400 Osceola County residents, with nearly 4,000 patient visits. Volunteers included 13 Osceola County based medical clinicians providing primary care and a range of specialty care, including a dietician and pharmacist. The OCOA’s sister clinic, St Thomas Aquinas located in St. Cloud, also offers primary and specialty care services while hosting 25 volunteers.

To put the NAFC’s national reach into perspective, the 501c(3) organization serves nearly two million patients annually, with more than 6 million patient care visits; all orchestrated with more than 130,000 volunteers.

The lack of health insurance impacts patients’ decisions on when, or if, they receive medical care, which can negatively affect their health. Thus, those uninsured, or underinsured individuals are more likely to delay or forego health care visits. The consequences can be severe, particularly when preventable conditions or chronic diseases go undetected. Unfortunately, we see this in a sizable percentage of our clinic populations in both Kissimmee and St. Cloud.

From an eligibility perspective, to become a patient of one of our clinics, individuals are required to be uninsured, and/or 200% below the federal poverty level.

Everyone should have access to the healthcare services they need without suffering extreme financial or health-related hardships. With that, we are proud to not only offer exemplary care through our clinics to Osceola residents who are underserved medically but are equally proud to have been recognized by the NAFC in our consistent and unwavering efforts to perform these services.

For more information on the NAFC, go to For more information on the ‘free clinics’ offered by the OCOA, go to

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