In the late 1960s Lalai Hamric had a child to support and needed a job. She landed a job as a clerk at what was then known as the Migrant Health Services. In 2009, she retired as president and CEO of Family Health Centers of Southwest Florida and a lifetime career of providing medical care for low-income families. Edward R. Murrow’s documentary, Harvest of Shame, stirred the U.S. Congress to enact legislation making funds available for family health centers and Hamric was named the head of the Family Health Centers of Southwest Florida. Under her leadership the organization grew from three small outreach clinics in Lee County to sixteen medical offices and six dental offices, including OB/GYN, pediatric and adult/ family medicine with outreach to five counties. “My proudest achievement,” says Hamric, “was to watch how Family Services grew.”
As a result of Hamric’s work Health Choice Network formed four community health centers and one homeless health center in Florida and expanded to become the National Health Choice Network. This led to implementation of common data collection systems, (measuring chronic disease outcomes), accounting systems and electronic medical/dental health records throughout the Network.
Hamric says that as the Family Health Centers grew so did the number of hats she wore. She scheduled appointments, assisted doctors and dentists, swept the floors, and met with politicians and bankers all in the same day. “If there was a job to be done, we didn’t think about it we just did it.”