‘Laissez’ is more at We Care Foundation’s Mardi Gras benefit

Dr. Nancy Baker, Dr. Michaela Scott and Jennifer Jones PHOTO BY JOSHUA KODIS

Supporters of the We Care Foundation ‘let the good times roll’ during their annual Mardi Gras celebration at the Oak Harbor Club.

Street performers and a fortune teller mesmerized guests before the Jammin’ Jambalaya Band led the way into the dining room, signaling the commencement of the revelry, which included a sumptuous dinner befitting any New Orleans Fat Tuesday celebrations.

The event was not just about revelry and entertainment though, but rather a way to provide free medical treatment to low-income county residents who are unable to afford specialty healthcare.

“We are here tonight to show our support for an organization that is doing so much to keep people in this community healthy and give them access to medical care. All of you in this room tonight are here to celebrate what this organization does but also pave the way for this organization to do even more,” said Jason Bronis, emcee and auctioneer.

“No matter where we come from, at one point or another, we have all faced a medical challenge. One of the things that we always think about when we face a medical challenge is how much will it cost. Many of us are fortunate that if we need medical care, we can afford it. But there are many more in our community who cannot, particularly preventative care.

And that’s where the We Care Foundation comes in,” Bronis added.

“We’re a small charity, so a little bit goes a long way with us,” said Dr. Nancy Baker, foundation president and medical director, thanking sponsors and kicking off the evening with, “Laissez les bon temps rouler.”

Jennifer Jones, executive director, noted that We Care was founded by the late Dr. Dennis Saver 33 years ago.

“Dr. Saver had a huge heart, and he saw a need in our community. There were people that needed care, and they needed to see doctors, but he realized they couldn’t afford it. Dr. Saver felt that it was important for people to get the care they needed, no matter their ability to pay for it.”

Jones thanked the board for their dedication, noting that they work very hard to ensure everyone gets the help and the healthcare that they need.

“At the end of the day, it’s about impacting lives and changing lives one at a time,” she added.

We Care utilizes an expansive network of specialty physicians who provide medical care to the uninsured and underinsured. Local partners in the program include Treasure Coast Community Health, Whole Family Health, Cleveland Clinic and the Indian River County Hospital District.

When the care needed is more than a primary care physician can help with, patients are directed to the We Care program, Jones explained, adding that the need has increased from 520 unduplicated individuals in one year to 420 needing care over just eight months.

We Care provides 20 different kinds of specialty medical care, ranging from gastroenterology to cardiology and ophthalmology. Volunteer physicians provide more than $1 million in vital services each year, and the foundation supplements that care by providing short-term prescription assistance, transportation for medical appointments, cataract lenses and medical supplies.

For more information, visit wecareofirc.org.

Photos by Joshua Kodis

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