Jacksonville couple opens new Black-owned and -operated

Jacqueline Fletcher wanted a primary care practitioner who took the time to listen to her, hear her, make her feel safe. She wanted someone who understood her ongoing life experience as a Black woman. 

She said she found exactly that in Jamie Neal, an advanced registered nurse practitioner and certified midwife who recently opened Life Tree Women Care on Jacksonville’s Westside with her CEO husband Derek Neal. They call the clinic the only one of its kind — Black-owned and -operated, with the lead provider someone of Jamie Neal’s particular training — in Northeast Florida.

“That’s the reason I went there, because they were African-American,” Fletcher said. “It means a lot to me. One of the main things was she seemed to really care and really listen to what I say. She was very attentive, not rushing.”

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Before Fletcher, 62, even left the building after her first patient visit, she had decided to transfer her medical care to Life Tree.

“It was like she could identify with my struggles,” she said. “I’m telling you, girl, I signed those papers.”

Registered nurse practitioner and midwife Jamie Neal works patient Jacqueline Fletcher through some stretching exercises to help with hip pain at Life Tree Women Care.

The foundation of the practice is a concept called cultural competence, which Jamie Neal, 43, said requires medical providers to “put biases to the side, listen to people needing care, listen to what they need and use that information.”

The provider, she said, must pay attention not only to the medical ills that prompted the patient’s visit but to the whole person.