United Health Foundation Pledges $1.7 Million to Health Care Center for the Homeless to Expand Access to Primary Care in Florida

August 18, 2020 | 2 min Read
  • Partnership will establish a clinical fellowship program for nurse practitioners to receive on-the-job training in complex care management for underserved populations

The United Health Foundation has committed $1.7 million to increase the number of health care providers by training nurse practitioners to meet growing demand for primary care in underserved communities of Florida. The partnership with the Health Care Center for the Homeless will improve access to care and better address the distinct health needs of people experiencing homelessness seeking care at its six Orange Blossom Family Health locations throughout Greater Orlando. 

The United States is projected to experience a shortage of between 20,000 and 55,000 primary care physicians over the next decade. Advanced care practitioners, including the 89% of nurse practitioners who are trained in primary care, can play a large role in addressing this shortage.

"Amid a physician shortage, there is an urgent need to grow and train the health workforce to provide care and services tailored to meet the unique needs of individuals,” said Michael Lawton, chief executive officer, Community Plan of Florida, UnitedHealthcare. “Our partnership with Health Care Center for the Homeless and investment in the nurse practitioner workforce will help provide high-quality care to those who need it most.”

The $1.7 million, three-year partnership with Health Care Center for the Homeless will create a new clinical fellowship program for post-graduate nurse practitioners to receive on-the-job training in complex care management for underserved populations. The program will train nurse practitioner fellows in integrated behavioral health, pediatric care, wound care, medication therapy management, substance use disorder counseling and other urgently needed services.

“Our organization is committed to providing quality health care services that improve the lives of the uninsured and those experiencing homelessness in our community,” said Bakari Burns, chief executive officer, Health Care Center for the Homeless. “We’re grateful for the generous support of the United Health Foundation that will ensure we can recruit and train future nurse practitioners to treat the vulnerable populations we serve at our Orange Blossom Family Health federally qualified health centers.”

“We know that people experiencing homelessness can face many barriers to obtaining health care and the limited supply of primary care providers presents additional barriers — especially for underserved populations,” said Mary Mayhew, secretary of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration. “The partnership between the United Health Foundation and the Health Care Center for the Homeless will help bridge gaps in care, improve access and strengthen the health care workforce in the state of Florida.”

UnitedHealth Group — including UnitedHealthcare, Optum and the United Health Foundation — is committed to improving existing workforce capacity and building and shaping a health care workforce for the 21st century that meets the unique needs of patients. For example, the United Health Foundation last year established a $1.5 million, three-year partnership with the Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence to recruit and support 39 advanced practice registered nurse behavioral health fellows to receive their Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) certificates. Upon certification, the 39 PMHNPs will commit to providing behavioral health care services for a minimum of two years in rural areas and support an estimated 3,000 to 12,000 rural Colorado patients annually, increasing rural clinics’ behavioral health care services capacity by approximately 25%.

UnitedHealth Group also has a long-standing commitment to supporting those experiencing homelessness. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Health Foundation launched a $2.5 million partnership with the National Health Care for the Homeless Council to support both urgent, immediate needs at local health care for homeless programs as well as longer-term needs to expand capacity. Several UnitedHealth Group initiatives, including financing affordable housing communities and directly covering the housing costs of individuals experiencing homelessness, have helped thousands of seniors, veterans, individuals with disabilities and others find stable housing.

About UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is a diversified health care company dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and helping to make the health system work better for everyone. UnitedHealth Group offers a broad spectrum of products and services through two distinct platforms: UnitedHealthcare, which provides health care coverage and benefits services; and Optum, which provides information and technology-enabled health services. For more information, visit UnitedHealth Group at or follow @UnitedHealthGrp on Twitter.