Samaritan Health and Wellness Center, Inc. is a nonprofit integrated primary care behavioral health clinic serving nearly 9,000 uninsured and underinsured patients in Southwest Florida and the surrounding area. The focus of care is holistic and involves assessing the needs of the patient’s mind, body, and spirit. It is a Christ-centered healthcare facility providing affordable healthcare for everyone who comes through the door.
We had a chance to sit down and talk with Dr. Susan hook, the founder of Samaritan, and dive into the mission and goals of the Center and how the work there is truly making an impact in the mental health community.
“Each and every person that walks through our doors, or meets with us virtually has a story,” said Dr. Hook. “We don’t always know the details, but it is my job to show Christ through my care. Even if they don’t share the same calling as me, it is my responsibility to provide them the highest level of care by addressing their physical, mental, and spiritual needs.”
The organization was started by the vision of Dr. Hook in the fall of 2011 after hearing an interview with a physician on the Moody Bible channel who cares for the uninsured in Memphis, Tennessee. She discussed the idea for the clinic with her Pastor at Cape Christian Fellowship, Wesley Furlong, and he also saw the need for a Christ-centered clinic for the uninsured. The lack of health care options for the working uninsured, who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to afford monthly health insurance payments, was evident. This was the population that was being underserved and going without proper healthcare. Dr. Hook was determined to make this Center a reality, so she traveled to Memphis to visit the Church Health Center and learn how to set up a similar clinic in Cape Coral.
As they were getting things off the ground, a generous donor supported the start of the clinic by paying a year’s worth of rent, which helped kick off the fundraising effort of having the first year’s budget saved prior to opening. The organization’s budget is still sustained by donations, grants, and the small fees for service the patients pay.
Along with the advanced practice registered nurses providing the medical care, Samaritan has mental health counselors who address addictions, anxiety, depression, grief, marital discord, and a variety of other mental and spiritual health issues affecting adults, children, and families. Dr. Hook explains, “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the mental health crisis has increased monumentally. It is vital, now more than ever, that help is accessible to those who need it. Through our work at Samaritan, and the generosity of our donors, we are making that difference and serving even more patients.”
With their goal of ensuring that no one goes without the proper healthcare, they have donor-directed funds to provide for patients that are unable to pay the small fees for service. In order to qualify for this financial assistance, patients must provide proof of income. The funds are limited and based on immediate need.
- The Two Silver Coins Fund helps patients in need of medical or mental health services who might have had a recent financial setback or job loss.
- The Mountaintop Memorial Fund helps subsidize fees for those who need mental health and addiction counseling.
- The Pediatric Counseling Fund provides counseling fees for children whose parents or guardians cannot afford to pay for the service. This fund was born out of a collaborative partnership with Valerie’s House, where grieving children go for help when they have lost a loved one.
In the first year of operation in November 2014, Samaritan had two staff members and saw a total of 40 patients. Over the past six years, they have more than tripled the number of patients served per week, and the staff has increased to ten. Samaritan continues to grow and is getting ready to expand and offer counseling for children four years and older utilizing play therapy techniques. The option for telehealth is also now available, which allows the team to serve even more patients across the state of Florida.
For more information, or to donate to Samaritan Health and Wellness Center, Inc., please visit https://www.capesamaritan.com.