St. Pete free clinic offers healthcare, hope

- At the St. Petersburg Free Clinic, care for Connie Pankratz begins with a hug.

"I got the cold and it's been one thing after another," Pankratz told the staff.

She has been coming to this clinic for about 10 years.

"What's so sad is, I worked for the phone company and I became very ill so I had to take early retirement. They offered me a package for COBRA. I couldn't afford that," she explained.

Clinic director Susan Easter says most patients have similar stories to Pankratz's.

"We serve those people who we typically refer to as the working poor," Easter explained.

The clinic has been around for nearly 50 years and serves thousands each year. A team of 100 volunteers works in the health center, making care for those patients possible.

Volunteers also work in the community to secure funding and let residents know about the clinic's services.

Nurse practitioner Trudy Grossman said working with patients like Pankratz is a pleasure.

"Everybody is so appreciative. People come here when they have nowhere else to go and I enjoy being a part of the clinic and part of their lives," said Grossman.

"I don't know what I would do without them," Pankratz said.

For more information about the St. Petersburg Free Clinic, visit

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