I spent the morning talking with Annie Breitinger, the Executive Director from We Care Manatee and boy did I learn a lot. First off, I had no idea how much good work this incredible nonprofit is doing right in our own backyard. We Care is instrumental in connecting doctors with the low income, underserved and uninsured community pro bono. Annie and her team work to find local doctors in Manatee and Sarasota counties that will volunteer their time to see these patients who need specialized care. We Care has over 70 specialty doctors that donate their time to seeing these patients such as Oncology, Dermatology, and Gynecology to just name a few. They often receive over 70 referrals a month and place around 35-40 patients with doctors a month. All prescriptions, up to $400.00, are covered every month. Annie stated that they have a very active board of directors, most of them doctors or in a field related to healthcare.
They have a very small budget each year and primarily are funded by county, state and private donors/local foundations. They do host one fundraiser a year that tends to be very successful.
When I asked Annie what some of their struggles are currently, she stated immediately, finding more doctors. Alot of doctors are overworked and understaffed. They really just don’t have time to take on more patients. There are also barriers to finding enough doctors and support staff.
Last year the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund gave We Care Manatee a grant to help support them with outreach to local doctors in the Lakewood Ranch community, to help with developing outreach packets to give to employers so that they can give that information to their employees and developed welcome packets to give to the local urgent care who see the type of patient that is served through We Care. Annie was very appreciative of the grant opportunity and feels they have been very successful in reaching more of the Lakewood Ranch community. Three new Lakewood Ranch doctors have signed up to see patients’ pro bono, including Dr. Jason Spector, a podiatrist at Florida Foot and Ankle Specialists. Adding Dr. Spector expands We Care Manatee’s available specialties to now include podiatry!
With the conclusion of my meeting with Annie, I was humbled knowing that this nonprofit is doing great work in the community and before our meeting, I hadn’t even heard of them. It also brought attention to why the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund does what it does in granting nonprofits such as We Care Manatee money so that they can expand their programming and fulfill their mission. Thank you, Annie, for the wonderful conversation and thank you We Care Manatee for being a resource to the Manatee County community.
For more information on We Care Manatee visit their website at www.wecaremanatee.org.