Carol, a Gulfport resident with Type 2 diabetes, experienced a major scare when her husband lost his job. Carol previously had health insurance through her husband’s military job, and suddenly, she was without health insurance for the first time in her life. How would she cover the high expense of the medication that she needs to manage her diabetes?

That’s when Carol turned to the St. Petersburg Free Clinic. Carol received free health screenings and diabetes medications – both of which have been lifesavers – at the Free Clinic’s Health Center.

At the Health Center, Carol has also learned lifestyle changes to improve her health and better manage her health condition. She’s seen the benefits from learning about cooking healthy meals and attending exercise classes. Even better: she’s made lifelong friends who have become a solid support system.

The Free Clinic first offered these types of health education services to help patients with diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease manager their conditions in ways beyond medications. The services were previously offered in the Health Center’s lobby, but the limited space meant the Free Clinic could only offer one class each week with a limited capacity of 20 participants.

But now, patients like Carol can choose from more free classes with even more variety at the Free Clinic’s newly expanded Health Education Center – a dedicated space for clients and community members to try cooking classes in the new teaching kitchen, or enjoy yoga and fitness classes in the exercise area.

The new Health Center is all part of the Free Clinic’s plan to support community members like Carol in their paths to living healthier, fuller lives.