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Our mission is to provide
no cost medical, pharmacy and wellness services
to the under-served in Charlotte County, Florida

Clinic to Receive Komen Funding

Written by Tom Cappiello for SUN Newspaper, Feeling Fit

July, 2010: Flash floods in the south, tornados in the mid-west, wildfires and mud-slides in California and winter storms in the Northeast when put together are all part of the US natural disaster story in 2009.   

In the same way I feel like there is a thread to my life recently, that, when you step back and look at it, is more connected than it might seem at first.  I'm trying to put it all together.

For example, I have served as Board Chair of the Virginia B Andes Volunteer Community Clinic for the last two years.  Prior to that, I served as treasurer for three years.  In fact, I was diagnosed with lung cancer about the same time we decided to expand our Christian mission to include both a pharmacy and free clinic in late 2007. 

The clinic has been opened since February, 2008 and operates between the hours of 5PM and 9PM, when the health department is closed.  The clinic was envisioned to provide the working poor with an alternative to going to the emergency room for urgent and episodic care.

I think it is an interesting coincidence that, at the time of my lung cancer diagnosis, I was deeply involved in opening a free clinic to serve the uninsured.  Since we have opened, the clinic has found and treated cancer, including lung cancer that might otherwise have gone undetected.

In 2009, the clinic served roughly 4,500 uninsured and underinsured patients and clocked about 26,000 volunteer hours.  Thanks to the physicians and nurses who volunteer their time, the clinic provides millions of dollars worth of free medical services as well as life-saving prescription drugs to residents of Charlotte County. Patients qualify to receive services if they have income less than 200% of the federal poverty level and little or no medical insurance coverage.  For a family of four, that means income from all sources of about $40,000 a year to qualify.  The clinic sees adult patients only, 18 years and older.

The clinic is funded in part with support from the Human Services Grant from United Way and Charlotte County government; but most of our funding comes from private sources:   the three area hospitals, churches, individuals, grants and fundraisers.  

In this economy getting donations from individuals and grants has been tough. To encourage donations, we devised the "Pacesetter Campaign" that seeks annual pledges from individual donors. To get things started, Mrs. Andes pledged to match any individual annual pledge of over $1000 up to an aggregate amount of $50,000.  I've calculated that a $1000 donation ($83 per month) that is matched by Virginia Andes, translates into roughly $16,000 in medical services.  We are still in need of raising $20,000 from individual donors to complete this year's campaign.   

Susan G. Komen for the CureWe are always seeking new sources of funding because we know that every dollar we raise saves lives. On Friday I got the good news that our clinic was awarded a $30,000 grant from the Southwest Florida Susan G Komen Foundation to provide breast cancer screening and diagnosis for qualified patients in Charlotte County. I believe this is the first Komen grant to be awarded to any organization in Charlotte County.  Coincidentally, just a few days prior to receiving news about the grant, the foundation's executive director called me to ask if I would speak with her dearest friend, who was recently diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer.  Of course, I told her I would, and sadly recounted that this is the fourth such call I have had in the last 10 days.

When I called my clinic executive director to tell her the good news about getting the Komen grant, I learned she had spent the weekend caring for a very close friend who is losing her battle with Stage IV breast cancer.  Is this a coincidence too or is there a message here?  You decide.

PO BOX 494190, 21297 Olean Blvd. - Unit B, Port Charlotte, FL 33949
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