Tina Crooks, RN, is We Care Jacksonville’s case manager. As the case manager, she is responsible for taking in uninsured and homeless patients, mainly those with diabetes, hypertension, behavioral disorders, and/or blood clot problems. Not only does she take patients in and help them recover, she teaches them about their illness, welcomes them into her We Care office or another clinic, and makes sure that her patients have medication. She even goes as far as making “dumpster rounds” in the beaches area, looks for her patients, and delivers them the medication they need.
A Florida Blue Grant was requested to cut down emergency room services for primary care. The patients that come in for primary care get sent to Crooks. Crooks also works with two clinics located at the beaches area. The federally funded Sulzbacher Clinic operates Monday through Friday and mainly focuses on the zip codes around the beach area. There is, however, another Sulzbacher location downtown. Although there are no homeless shelters by the beaches, there is Mission House, a day shelter that offers church services, social work, medical care, and three meals a day. Mission House has services all over Jacksonville and functions mostly through donations and volunteers. We Care’s grants help out with medicine.
Crooks is busy helping out people every day: Monday through Friday she is at Sulzbacher Clinic, and on Tuesdays she is at We Care’s Administrative Offices.
When Crooks moved here, she first volunteered at the Sulzbacher clinic downtown. Her church cooked dinner for the homeless that were there. Her work was mostly through the family section of the shelter, where each family had a room. Crooks has always been open-minded about the homeless, but she has learned a lot as she grew more involved in the community. She says that the people are very appreciative of the little things and that they look out for one another.
“Don’t assume they are homeless because of psychiatric or substance abuse problems,” Crooks said.