FORT MYERS, FLORIDA – To mark the nearly one-year anniversary of Hurricane Ian, the WellMed Charitable Foundation (WCF) presented a check to non-profit leaders in the Fort Myers community marking $690,600 in grants donated in the aftermath of the Category 4 storm.
This was part of the Foundation’s $1.4 million commitment in the past year to charities in Florida, Texas and New Mexico. The WCF, the non-profit partner of health care delivery company WellMed Medical Management, Inc., focuses on social determinants of health impacting older adults, including food insecurity, economic security, transportation, housing and social isolation.
The event was held at Zion Lutheran Church in Fort Myers.
“Thanks to the generous donations of employees and clinicians and matching grants from WellMed, we are pleased to be able to support the people of Fort Myers and other neighboring communities,” said Carol Zernial, executive director of the WellMed Charitable Foundation.
Michelle Branham, Secretary of the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, called the support critical to hurricane recovery efforts across the region.
“The WellMed Charitable Foundation rescued us in such a perfect space at such a perfect time.”
Secretary Branham said. “Working in a public private partnership with people like WellMed who have a tremendous heart for seniors, has been a tremendous gift.”
“So with the generous donation WellMed gave to us we were able to get a whole bunch of amazing senior volunteers that not only helped during Hurricane Ian and also Hurricane Idalia, but also went out to provide companionship care.”
Hurricane Ian made landfall in Southwest Florida on Sept. 28, 2022. Despite power and internet outages, WellMed teams distributed essential supplies and provided medical care and emotional support to hurricane survivors.
“I am so proud of our staff,” said Dr. Troy Comstock, president of WellMed Medical Management of Florida. “We had employees who came to the clinics to treat patients and distribute food and water to community members who needed help, and then went back home to deal with the cleanup at home.”
Mitchell Gallignano, a member of the WellMed team who lost everything, said he was grateful for the help. “The support from WellMed was remarkable, and the donations of food and emergency supplies to the clinics were overwhelming.”
Non-profit organizations receiving WCF grants included:
- Hope Heroes – $400,000
- Area Agency on Aging (AAA) of Pasco-Pinellas County – $100,000
- Collier County Hunger & Homeless Coalition – $20,000
- Community Cooperative – $20,000
- Senior Friendship Centers – $20,000
- Jewish Family Services of the Suncoast – $15,000
Additionally, WellMed employees with homes and property damaged in the storm received another $115,600 in aid. WellMed operates more than 125 primary care clinics focusing on care for older adults across Florida.
Left to right: Carol Zernial- exec director of WellMed Charitable Foundation; Kevin Anderson- Mayor of Fort Meyers; Secretary Michelle Branham; Cheri Arnold, Madeline LaPack, SWFL Regional Homeless & Hunger Coalition; Janelle Olsen, Community Co-operative; Dr. Jamie Huysman – Chief Compassion Officer for WellMed; George Cooper, Jewish Family and Children Services; and Erin McLeod, CEO of Senior Friendship Center.
About the WellMed Charitable Foundation
The WellMed Charitable Foundation (www.wellmedgives.org) is a non-profit 501(C)3 organization that supports seniors and their caregivers with special emphasis on wellness, prevention and living with chronic illness. Established in 2006 by Dr. George M. Rapier III, a noted physician and the Chairman of the Board, the Foundation has contributed millions of dollars to non-profit groups. The Foundation oversees several initiatives benefiting seniors and caregivers, including Caregiver SOS resource centers, the Caregiver Teleconnection, and senior center health and wellness programs.
About WellMed Medical Management, Inc.
WellMed Medical Management is a leading health care delivery company serving more than 2 million patients in Texas, Florida and New Mexico through primary care clinics, multi-specialty clinics, and contracted medical management services. Most patients are eligible for Medicare. Founded in 1990 by Dr. George Rapier III, the vision of the growing enterprise is to change the face of health care delivery for the nation. Learn more at wellmedhealthcare.com.