Founded in 2003, the mission of the Wellness Center of Door County is to provide affordable and confidential reproductive, sexual and related health care to men and women in an educational environment that respects the dignity and choices of each person.
What was the inspiration behind the founding of the organization?
In 1999 Planned Parenthood terminated services in Door County, which left a significant gap in the availability of reproductive health care for low income and/or uninsured community members. Therefore, the inspiration for the Wellness Center was the belief that Door and Kewaunee County men and women need and deserve a non-traditional clinic in which they could receive affordable and confidential reproductive health care.
What type of programming do you offer and who benefits from the work that you do? Who are the primary targets of your work and services?
The Wellness Center of Door County serves patients that range in age from 12 – 70+ years. Services offered include the following:
• HIV and STD (sexually transmitted infection/disease) testing for males and females
• Affordable lab work for males and females
• Breast and cervical cancer screening
• Annual exams, sports physicals and pre-employment physicals
• Colposcopy for abnormal PAP test results
• Pregnancy testing and all options counseling
• Natural Family Planning methods
• Affordable methods of birth control
• Hormone testing and menopause management options including hormone therapy
• Examinations following a sexual assault
• Tobacco cessation assistance
• Mental health screening, treatment and referrals
• Health education and counseling
• Screening and enrollment in assistance programs based on eligibility
• Community outreach at health fairs and public school system
Can you provide us with a specific case or instance (without sacrificing the confidentiality of the individuals involved) that exemplifies how your work benefits the Door community?
A specific example of one aspect of our services involved a female referred to the Wellness Center around 3 am after being raped by someone she has known and trusted for years. She sought services for pregnancy prevention but was fairly adamant about not reporting the situation to law enforcement. She actually works for the perpetrator and didn’t want to have her name publicized or risk losing her job. She was certain that pretending it didn’t happen would make it go away. Following a lengthy discussion with the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner she realized that she was not at fault for what happened; her manner of dress and/or behaviors were not responsible for the rape. She learned what her options were and chose to have an examination performed with medications for STD and pregnancy prevention and the collection of forensic evidence in the event she decides to press charges. The Wellness Center of Door County is the sole provider of an examination by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) following a sexual assault. SANE nurses have received specialty training to provide compassionate care, provide options, and collect forensic evidence in the event that prosecution is desired and/or warranted.
How is your organization weathering the storm that has hit the non-profit community in the wake of the financial crisis?
Although the stories we hear from patients every week and the challenges we see them endure including job loss, foreclosure, and the subsequent increasing depression and anxiety has created a good deal of “compassion fatigue,” we have been and will continue to be ready to meet the increasing demand for our services. We want to do everything possible to make sure that members of our community are aware of what services they are eligible for so they don’t incur unnecessary medical expenses.
What are your fiscal plans for the future of your organization?
We launched a capital campaign in late summer of 2009 in order to expand our space and provision of services. We’ve saved and/or raised nearly 50% of the funds needed to accomplish this project.
What near-term goal(s) has your organization prioritized? For example, do you hope to add a service, build a facility, meet a certain need in the community?
• Renovation and expansion of clinical and administrative space so that we can enhance services provided to our community
• Creation of a dedicated Children’s Corner in waiting area
• Expansion of clinical and support staff positions
• Addition of pediatric and adolescent SANE (sexual assault nurse examiner) services
What is one thing about your organization that most people may not know?
We welcome people with and without insurance; those with insurance actually help us off-set our reimbursement mix, and they do not take anything away from any other community member by choosing us as their reproductive health care provider. Many people who have insurance have a huge annual deductible that they’ll typically never meet. If they choose the Wellness Center for services they’ll be charged on an income based fee scale and/or be enrolled in state funded assistance programs for which they are eligible.
Is there a shocking statistic related to your organization’s efforts that our readers might be interested to know?
Of the county residents enrolled in the Wisconsin Medical Assistance Family Planning Waiver, the Wellness Center has enrolled over 75% of these individuals, giving them access to family planning services and assistance with planning/spacing pregnancies. The Family Planning Waiver provides reproductive health care services at no charge to eligible Wisconsin residents and saved the state of Wisconsin over 5 million dollars in the first 5 years of this program due to the prevention of unplanned pregnancies.
For more information about Wellness Center of Door County, Inc, located at 312 N. 5th Avenue, Sturgeon Bay, email [email protected], visit http://www.wellnesscenterofdoorcounty.com or call 920.746.9444.