Become a client
At We Care Manatee, we believe all Manatee County residents should have access to necessary medical care and we are committed to helping those who have no insurance and can’t afford to pay for the care they need.
Frequently asked questions
Becoming a client starts with a referral from your physician or clinic where you get your medical care.
All referrals should be faxed to 941-870-8503 and should include:
If you don’t have a physician, call our office at 941-755-3952 and we can help find a clinic to see you.
You may be eligible if:
You cannot use our services if:
Driver’s License, Passport, Florida ID Card, Permanent Resident Alien Card
Driver’s License, Passport, State ID Card
Utility Bill, Lease Agreement, Bank/Bill Statement or mailed government document
4 Weeks of Pay Stubs, Employer Verification, Self-employed Record.
If Not Working – Letter of Support from someone who is providing for your needs.
We Care Manatee Prescription Medication Program provides free medicines to clients if they are prescribed by one of our volunteer physicians. Clients can fill 30-day prescriptions at select Walmart Pharmacies. There are limits to what is covered. If you become a We Care Manatee client, your Case Manager will explain how this program works.
All breast health services require a physicians’ order.
We offer the following services (ages 18-64):
Turning Fear into Hope
Saadia Barhoumi used to feel sick and scared all the time. She waited a year to seek follow-up treatment after a doctor told her that a condition in her brain that was causing memory loss and a tingling sensation akin to having ants crawling across your face and body might be Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
“Doctors are so expensive. I didn’t have any money. I couldn’t pay. I thought, I’m pretty sure I’m going to die,” said Barhoumi, who was forced into early retirement because of severe asthma triggered by stress.
The words care, compassion, dignity and warmth spring up frequently as she shares her experience with We Care Manatee. She was referred to the organization by her doctor.
A specialist We Care Manatee referred Barhoumi to determined that she has a treatable condition that is causing her brain to age prematurely. She undergoes periodic MRIs to monitor the condition and is on a regimen of Vitamin B-12 shots. Being able to get needed medical care has reduced her stress level, which enables her to control her asthma. Barhoumi says being better able to control her asthma enables her to use less of the costly asthma medication she takes, which helps keep costs down, and means there will be more for others in need.
She says that unfortunately, people with limited resources, who are uninsured and in need are often treated in a dismissive manner.
“Here at We Care Manatee they show you warmth, they take the time to explain things and listen to you. They don’t treat you different, you feel like you’re more than a number or just money. You feel like they care. I love it here because I am made to feel like a human being, like I matter!”
Thoughtful, reflective and soft spoken, Barhoumi eagerly expresses gratitude for the care she received to treat her existing condition, and for the preventative screenings she receives now.
“When I came to We Care Manatee Kyle told me ‘don’t worry about anything. We’re going to help you.’ I feel safe. I don’t feel sick anymore, and I don’t feel scared. I feel confident about the treatment I receive. I know I am in good hands.”
A Life Changing Experience
Ten minutes after informing Gertud Kerine Tusnovics that she had Early Stage 2 Breast Cancer, a nurse put her in touch with We Care Manatee. Gertud marvels at how quickly the application process went, and treatment began.
“Everything happened so fast, so quick,” she says.
Thanks to what Tusnovics describes as “a really amazing rapid response” from Kyle and the We Care team, within a very short period she received the services—a biopsy, ultrasound, two surgeries, radiation, bone density test and oncology visits—needed to remove the cancer and restore her health.
“I want to thank you and your team for helping me get through my breast cancer diagnosis. Special thanks to all the doctors and nurses who were always very helpful and friendly. I am grateful that I found your organization and hope you will be able to continue helping patients in need—like me,” the grandmother of three expressed in an email thanking Kyle and the We Care Manatee team for their kindness and support.
“I really don’t know where I’d be without Kyle and We Care Manatee,” she said. “They were very very helpful and caring. We Care Manatee changed by life.”
I’m still here!
Because she was uninsured, Donna Wildman waited seven months to seek treatment after a diagnostic mammogram revealed a lump in her right breast.
“I thought it was nothing, and I didn’t have insurance,” she said.
Her doctor’s nurse referred her to We Care Manatee. A biopsy in January 2018 revealed she had Stage 1 breast cancer. Through We Care Manatee she was able to see specialists, including Oncologists—who removed the lump and provided chemotherapy and radiation.
“We Care Manatee has been a Godsend, for sure. Just the shots needed to build up my white blood cells cost $24,000. That’s just the shots and doesn’t include chemo, radiation or the lumpectomy,” Wildman said. “Without We Care Manatee, I might be dead by now.”
Recently, she learned that the cancer has returned and is now Stage 4 Metastatic Breast cancer.
“I’m not worried,” she says. “I have faith and I believe in Dr. Fitch, my Oncologist. He’s wonderful, so caring. Everybody here has been awesome, caring and attentive. It’s been an excellent experience. And I’m still here!”
The Gift of Time
A routine screening revealed pre-cancerous cells in Deborah Kenniker’s genital area. A non-invasive form of treatment didn’t work and Kenniker was told she would need to take the next steps—a biopsy, pre-op tests and surgery.
Kenniker, who was diligent about getting her annual screenings, didn’t know where to turn. In the past, she’d paid for services like mammograms using a charge card, paying the bills off over time. This was a dilemma a credit card wasn’t going to solve.
“I wouldn’t have had the ability to do anything, I had exhausted all possibilities to find healthcare,” she said. A last-ditch desperate call to the Manatee County Health Department led her to We Care Manatee. We Care Manatee connected her with a specialist who removed the pre-cancerous patch.
“We Care Manatee is like an oasis in the middle of the desert for people who don’t have means to take care of their medical problems. I do not and did not have financial means to take care of the problem,” the retired wife and mother of two said. “I’m very grateful. I don’t know what would have happened to me if I had not been able to get the treatment I needed through We Care Manatee. I could have cancer right now.”
Mazen Fares said that wherever he was, there was a pack of Tums close by.
“If I was in bed, there were Tums on the table next to the bed. If I was sitting in a chair, there were Tums on the table next to me. In the car, in bed, everywhere!” he says with a laugh.
But the life-threatening acid reflux-related condition that led to the almost round-the-clock Tums consumption, and frequent uninsured emergency room visits was no laughing matter. Fares threw up constantly for years. The problem became so severe that he threw up after every meal and would unexpectedly be forced while driving to pull off the road to throw up. He often woke up in the middle of the night choking on his own vomit.
A referral from a Sarasota County clinic that serves uninsured residents in Sarasota led the Manatee resident to We Care Manatee, where he was referred to a gastroenterologist who performed surgery to correct the problem.
“No more Tums,” Fares he says with a big grin.
Kerry’s Story: Tragedy Hits for A Woman Who Had Never Been Sick A Day in Her Life
Born in Akron, OH and raised by a loving single parent and grandparent, Kerry Evans attended college, majored in communications and managed a photo lab for 11 years. After losing her job when the photo lab closed in 2003, Kerry decided to join a friend to make the move to Florida and a fresh start.
She worked as a licensed Community Association Manager for several condominium and homeowners’ associations, a position that was stressful but fulfilling.
For Kerry, the cost of health insurance was out of reach. As a self-described young, healthy Midwestern girl who’d “never been sick a day in her life,” she felt the coverage wouldn’t be needed.
One Tuesday morning, Kerry experienced severe stomach pain and sought treatment at an urgent care center. After an evaluation, she was told to go immediately to the ER. That’s when Kerry says, “Things really began to go south.”
An abdominal abscess. Sepsis. Multiple surgeries over the course of the next month.
As is sometimes the case with a serious illness, Kerry was out of work for so long that she lost that fulfilling, frustrating job. Then came the complications.
Abdominal bleeding. Gallstones. A liver disorder and kidney tumor.
Now Kerry was a self-described mess. How would she pay for the care she’d already received? Or the follow-up care she’d need going forward on the uncertain road back to wellness? That’s when the Office Administrator for her surgeon, Dr. Jenna Kazil at Florida Surgical Clinic, suggested she contact We Care Manatee. He made the call for her. Less than 24 hours later, a We Care Case Manager was answering all of Kerry’s questions, scheduling her appointment with a primary care physician and explaining the We Care free prescription program.
Dr. Kazil referred Kerry to other We Care volunteer physicians for care coordination, and she received services from Dr. Mark Weintraub and Dr. Bryan Allen, Urologists at Bradenton’s Urology Partners.
In retrospect, Kerry says, “My illness has been a humbling experience, but at We Care I never felt badly because I couldn’t pay. I also know that I got the same quality of care that I would have if I could pay. I guess that’s the whole point behind what We Care is doing.”
Today, it’s another “fresh start” for Kerry. She’s not only feeling better, she was rehired and recently promoted at her old job.
And she’s telling everyone about We Care Manatee.