Last updateMon, 16 Jan 2017 3pm



Local group unites for better healthcare

W - HealthcareThe Children's Health Fair last spring. Sharon Surrency started igniting For Health Care Justice to advocate access to affordable care.

ALACHUA COUNTY – Weighing in at over 900 pages long, the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, can be confusing, leaving many people to not know what the changes can mean for them.

Some citizens in Hawthorne and Waldo are trying to help their community make a smooth transition into the activation of the bill.

Sharon Surrency and Mary Jackson took it upon themselves to help their neighbors ensure they had a better understanding of the new law. They did so by forming a ministry called Igniting For Health Care Justice.

“There are too many people out there that are either uninsured, or just underinsured,” Surrency said. “And to me, that’s unacceptable.”

The ministry group hosted a workshop event on Saturday, Oct. 25 and 26 to help bring some of the issues with healthcare to light.

“Our purpose is to increase awareness and educate people about their healthcare, as well as to advocate that it should be affordable, accessible, accountable and inclusive,” Surrency said.

The event was county-wide and free for anyone to attend. It was sponsored by the United Methodist Church, which received a grant from the General Board of Church and Society.

There was a candlelight vigil on Oct. 25 at Northside Park in Gainesville, followed by an informational workshop the next day at the Senior Services Center on Northwest 34th Street in Gainesville.

The majority of the people who attended were older, but there but there were other age groups.

“I was pleasantly surprised by the middle-aged people that came for both days,” Surrency said.

“I think that people really appreciated the insight about healthcare reform, as well as the information we had about specific diseases, such as diabetes and cancer,” Surrency said.

Around 72 people in total attended the event, which featured physicians giving lectures, as well as nutrition and safety exhibits.

One of the aims of the new Affordable Care Act is to lower the rate of uninsured Americans along with increasing the quality and affordability of health care.

Surrency and Jackson said they feel these are important elements to improving the current system. Whether the bill will have its desired impact is yet to be seen, but people need to understand their care, Surrency said.

The idea for the ministry came to Surrency when she visited a training workshop over the summer in Washington D.C. that was sponsored by a Methodist church.

She teamed up with Jackson, and the two began to share information with others.  

“For me, being a nurse, I saw a chance to help others who are limited in their healthcare access,” Surrency said.

“I hope this can be a positive foundation for a future impact as well.”

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