Last week, the Health Care District of Palm Beach County marked the 25th anniversary of its creation. Formed by referendum in 1988 to help improve the health and well-being of county residents, the district has transformed local healthcare, helping thousands of people over the past 25 years.
In a time when the need for restructuring America’s healthcare system has been widely discussed, Palm Beach County residents should be thankful for an initiative that has not only extended preventative care and coverage to thousands, but invested in an infrastructure to provide lifesaving care to all our residents.
The Health Care District of Palm Beach is responsible for many of the area’s key health initiatives, including the lifesaving Trauma Hawk program, making sure trained nurses are in every school building and providing critical healthcare in some of the county’s poorest communities.
A quarter century ago, if you were in a serious car accident, your chances of surviving a critical injury were slim. But since 1991, when the Health Care District established its award-winning Trauma System, residents have benefited not only from the two Trauma Hawk aeromedical helicopters, but also from the knowledge and quick work of two regional trauma centers. The program provides lifesaving care to more than 3,000 people each year who suffer traumatic injuries, with more than 54,000 people served since the program’s inception.
But it’s not just about critical care. Twenty years ago, the Health Care District sought to fill gaps in health coverage for those who did not qualify for government healthcare, but could not afford private insurance plans. This measure has enabled thousands of residents to seek preventative care, likely saving them costly trips to the emergency room and making Palm Beach County a healthier community.
Five years later, the Health Care District invested in our children, now providing more than 200 school nurses in 167 Palm Beach County schools. Each year, these nurses serve more than 174,000 students. Because of the initiative, nurses who might seek careers outside the schools for financial reasons were given incentive to help our children stay healthy and receive the care they need while in school.
These programs are a shining example of the good that can come from a community pooling its resources to help others.
The Health Care District of Palm Beach County has accomplished much in 25 years, creating services we now take for granted. But it’s important for us all to take a moment and be thankful for all the programs we have at our disposal — you never know when you may need one, and you’ll certainly be glad it’s there when you do.