From the Executive Director
This is the first of what I hope will be regular posts to keep you updated on programs & activities at We Care Manatee. I plan to include important information about resources available in our community and offer education about topics that may improve your access to quality health care.
It is our mission to facilitate free medical care for low income, uninsured residents of Manatee County. In the course of that work, we find many wonderful services and resources worth sharing…..
When I arrived in last March, Covid-19 restrictions had just been put in place. There were no cars on the road, businesses were shuttered, and citizens were confined to their homes. I met with staff and asked, “Should we keep this office open?” The answer was a resounding, “Yes!”
As I reviewed the referrals that continued to come into our office, I saw why the staff was so dedicated to the agency’s mission. Urgent requests for oncology, surgery, cardiology, ENT, GI, and many other specialties arrived daily. We implemented new safety and cleaning procedures, purchased supplies, and went to work. Our volunteer physicians continued to accept patients and provide necessary consultation, care, and treatment to our uninsured clients. This is a truly generous community!
The past year has not been easy. Many of our volunteer physicians had to limit the number of clients they could accept due to reductions in office hours. Non-urgent medical procedures were postponed, and several referrals were delayed. Our annual Casino Night fundraiser, which provides approximately 30% of our general operating income, was cancelled.
Through it all, our office remained open and staff took the opportunity to make some much-needed updates to policies and programs.
We implemented a new data management system to process referrals and create reports more efficiently. New forms were developed to improve the way referrals are sent to our volunteer physician offices. Grant applications were submitted for personal protection equipment (PPE), which continues to be distributed to our volunteer physician offices, and clients who come into the office for eligibility appointments. With the help of our partners, we held 2 successful free mammogram events.
And last, but not least of course, we worked to create this new website to better showcase what we do and connect to our clients, volunteer physicians, and the community at large.
I want to thank the staff and Board for supporting me during my first year in this new position. We Care Manatee is such an important part of the Safety-net system of care in Manatee County. We take our role very seriously and hope to be able to serve this community for years to come.