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News : AmeriHealth Caritas Celebrates Official Opening of Call Center
June 19, 2014 -- Barely more than a half-year after first announcing plans for a new call center, AmeriHeatlh Caritas officially opened its new operations in the Baymeadows area of Jacksonville.
Officials from the company based in Philadelphia met with some of the 279 Jacksonville employees at the 66,000-square-foot AmeriHealth Caritas campus at 8171 Baymeadows Way West at the Cambridge West complex. The company in October said it was planning for the new center that could eventually house up to 400 employees who will be paid on average between $15 and $20 per hour.
"I don’t think that you could be in a better line of business than we’re in," said AmeriHealth CEO Paul Tufano. "What we’re trying to do is lift people up so that they can help themselves and I think that access to health care … is a pretty fundamental thing in this country."
This is AmeriHealth Caritas’ second national operations center. Another is already running in the Philadelphia area, where the company is based. The Jacksonville site gives the company some reach into the South in dealing with Medicaid and Medicare management.
It also provides hundreds of jobs and for those who got one of the call center positions after the company started publicizing applications in October, the work is welcome. A few of those workers that were hired started on the job in December, working until the center was fully functional and renovated. Company officials declined to provide the cost of the renovation.
"The morale here is excellent," said Daphne Williams, a service representative at the Jacksonville operation.
Williams said she applied online for a job at the AmeriHealth Caritas and left another job to take the position. But she said many of those new employees at the facility are coming off stints of unemployment.
"Pretty much almost everyone. … They were unemployed prior to starting here. This was just a sigh of relief coming here," Williams said.
Marlys Golatz, associate relations manager at the Jacksonville site, said most of the hires were from the local workforce.
"We’re very fortunate in that Jacksonville provided us with just a very strong pool of very qualified [employees]," Golatz said. "It’s really helped us in terms of being able to hit the ground running."
Broderick Green, director of business development for JAXUSA Partnership, attended the official opening and said the additional work in the job market shouldn’t be overlooked.
"It’s an element of the health care industry," Green said. "Given the growth opportunities here, it’s a little bit more than a call center.
"It’s great adding jobs to the community," Green said. "Three hundred jobs means there are 300 people who have a chance to come in and earn a living."
The call center added to the local workforce is the latest in a number of facilities that have had mixed results in Jacksonville.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Friday, June 20, 2014