Patty* of Phoenix was seeking answers for the reasons her baby, Luca, was suffering. Being a single mom with no health insurance, she didn’t know where to turn, until she found the WellCare Foundation.
“No words can adequately express just how truly grateful I am for all the dedicated doctors, nurses, and staff at WellCare, as well as the key people at St. Joseph’s Hospital for performing the surgery,” Patty said.
Another struggling mother, Shelly* of Phoenix, found stress release with the help of WellCare. At the time, Shelly was working multiple jobs and trying to ensure that her daughter, Cory, was taken care of and covered by health insurance.
“It is so nice to have people truly care about you when you have forgotten to care about yourself,” Shelly said.
The WellCare Foundation was founded in 1999 by Marge Ebeling, RN, DCh, and Ph.D. Ebeling wanted to provide free, integrated, primary health care to single working mothers and their children who are not reliant on state assistance and cannot afford insurance or pay out-of-pocket for care.
Ebeling and her husband, Les, along with 12 other health care practitioners and friends worked together to get the foundation going and in 2002 opened in Central Phoenix. As time went on, the need for health care grew and so did WellCare.
“The 2006 Community Census stated there were 175,000 of these single mother families without health care in Maricopa County,” Ebeling said. “WellCare needed to expand its capacity to care for more children and their mothers, so in 2008 WellCare opened its third clinic at the Gilbert Boys and Girls Club and its fourth at Fresh Start Women’s Resource Center.”
WellCare now has five clinics and 135 licensed volunteer practitioners. In the past ten years, the organization has provided more than $2.5 million of integrated health care to those that qualify for their services.
WellCare’s services include family practice, pediatrics, internal medicine, counseling, ophthalmology, naturopathic medicine, physical therapy, cardiology, podiatry, optometry, dermatology, chiropractic, gynecology, osteopathic medicine, dentistry, nutrition counseling and neurology.
“WellCare’s integrated, holistic model of care is very proactive and is different from other programs because we focus on the notch group of underserved single, working mothers and their children,” Ebeling said.
In the future Ebeling hopes to double the number of volunteer practitioners from 137 to 300 and hire enough nursing staff to have all five WellCare clinics open four days a week so that more mothers and children who need care can be seen.
“We need more volunteer health care practitioners and lay volunteers,” Ebeling said. “WellCare is campaigning for more financial support from private donors and ongoing corporate financial support.”
For more information on the WellCare Foundation or to volunteer opportunities, visit their website at www.wellcarefoundation.org or call (602)-263-4092.
*the last names of mothers were withheld for privacy purposes.