Celebrating a Decade of Dermatologic Care for the Uninsured

Oct 17, 2019 at 12:11 pm by Staff

Jerri Johnson, MD, Shepherd's Hope

"At Shepherd's Hope, I help people who have nowhere else to turn to for health care," said Jerri Johnson, MD. "For over a decade, I have been part of an amazing group of medical professionals who change the lives of men, women and children in our community just by volunteering a few hours a month."

An Orlando native, Johnson opened her private practice, Altamonte Dermatology, in 1991, which has progressively grown over the years. In 2018, Allison Cassedy, PA, joined her team; the practice accepts new patients. Friend and colleague Sandra Stine, MD, a Shepherd's Hope volunteer, invited Johnson to become involved with the non-profit organization in 2009. "Helping people who so desperately need medical care, who are uninsured and cannot afford care, strengthens our community. It's gratifying to know that you are helping individual people as well as providing care that keeps our community healthier," she said. Shepherd's Hope has provided over 275,608 free medical visits and patient services since first opening in 1997.

As a board certified dermatologist, Dr. Johnson treats patients at Shepherd's Hope for conditions ranging from acne and rashes to skin cancer. "In many instances, patients have lived with a skin condition for a long time because they do not have health insurance. Typically, I can provide treatment on-site including the removal of most skin cancers. If the skin cancer is too large to perform the procedure at Shepherd's Hope, the patient is referred to an ENT or plastic surgeon," said Johnson who volunteers at the Longwood Health Center. Shepherd's Hope also offers services at locations in East Orlando, Downtown Orlando, Ocoee and Winter Garden.

Working to provide overall health for patients, other Shepherd's Hope volunteers often refer patients to Johnson. "Other providers see a chronic rash, a growth or a skin condition that needs care, and let the patient know that dermatologic care is available to them through Shepherd's Hope. The patients so appreciate that their doctors are looking out for them," she said.

Dr. Johnson's commitment to the community is a shared passion in her family. Her husband, Seth Johnson, DO, Maitland Avenue Urgent Care, has also volunteered at Shepherd's Hope since 2009. "We volunteer on the same evening each month. We enjoy working with the other volunteers who treat patients, assist and even provide translation services. It's such a great network of people dedicated to providing quality health care," said Jerri Johnson.

As a dermatologist, removing life-threatening cancers is a primary facet of Johnson's work. "I treat a lot of skin cancer because of the effects of the sun here in Orlando. Sometimes, because Shepherd's Hope patients could not afford preventive care, the cancers are extensive. Having access to a dermatologist gives them the ability to have skin cancer detected and treated in its early phases," she said.

"Sometimes, though, it's the small things that make a huge difference in a patient's life," she said. "A simple procedure removing a growth or treating a rash can greatly impact a person's self-esteem. They feel their personal appearance is improved, so they gain confidence," she said.

Her husband referred to her a Shepherd's Hope patient who had a large, disfiguring growth on his forehead. She was able to remove the growth on-site. "I so vividly remember him exclaiming, 'Oh my gosh, I can go to my high school reunion now!' That made me so incredibly happy," said Johnson.

"I have volunteered at Shepherd's Hope for 10 years. What stands out to me the most with all the patients I have treated is how utterly appreciative they are. As health care providers, we help them with medical conditions they cannot fix themselves. And without health insurance, they do not have any other way to obtain the care they need. Shepherd's Hope fills that void, and changes people's lives with every visit," said Dr. Johnson.

"Just one evening a month changes the lives of so many people here in Orlando. At the end of the day, it feels so good to know that you're part of such a caring organization," she said.

Johnson received her undergraduate degree from Emory University and her medical degree from the University of Florida. She completed her internal medicine residency at Orlando Health and her dermatology residency at the University of Arkansas. She is board certified in both internal medicine and dermatology. She provides a wide range of medical, surgical and cosmetic dermatologic services for patients of all ages.

She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, Florida Society of Dermatologic Surgeons, American Society for Dermatologic Surgery and American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery.

She has been a clinical assistant professor at FSU College of Medicine since 2004. She was an assistant professor at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine from 2012-17.

With the idea that "none of us knows how to do it all, but all of us know how to do some of it," Dr. William S. Barnes, senior pastor of St. Luke's United Methodist Church, founded Shepherd's Hope in 1997. The non-profit depends on volunteer physicians, nurses and other licensed health care professionals to provide quality health care for people in the community.

To learn more about volunteering with Shepherd's Hope, contact Abby Rice, Director of Volunteer and Community Based Programs, at (407) 876-6699, ext. 233; Abby.Rice@ShepherdsHope.org; or visit http://www.shepherdshope.org/volunteers/

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