A longtime provider of health care to Collier County’s working poor, Nancy Lascheid has been chosen to receive the Murray Hendel Civic Achievement Award for 2019. She will be honored at a ceremony in December.
Named for Mr. Hendel, a Naples icon and cofounder of the Collier Citizens Council, the award recognizes individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the community.
Ms. Lascheid’s concern for indigent workers goes back many years. In 1999, she and her late husband Bill, a retired dermatologist, founded the Neighborhood Health Clinic. It grew from a three-room start-up to a $2.6 million operation today. Housed in a 28,000-square-foot building staffed by some 500 health care volunteers, it treated over 11,000 low-income workers last year.
The current facility on Goodlette-Frank Road opened its doors in 2003 and expanded to a state-of-the-art operation earlier this year, augmenting medical treatment with lab testing, radiology and dental service.
“We’re very much a volunteer organization,” Ms. Lascheid said, in speaking of the clinic’s extensive pro bono program. The $2.6 million annual budget is leveraged to some $18 million for services actually rendered.
The clinic is unique in other ways. Not a penny in government money is accepted. It’s entirely funded by local donors. When asked how she measures financial success, Ms. Lascheid said, “The return on investment is when the patient gets better.”
Altruism is also limited. From the beginning, the Lascheids decided that patients must have some skin in the game. Today those treated must be employed, low-income Collier County residents who have no health insurance or government assistance. All pay a small monthly fee. Even with those restrictions, an estimated 17,000 patients will have qualified for treatment this year.
The clinic is still very much a family affair, with daughter Leslie Lascheid now serving as CEO. She will oversee an expansion to the south, as the campus adds specialty care, social services and education in coming years.
Drawing on its remarkable success, the clinic has attracted international attention. Examples are path-finding neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who visited and delivered a lecture, and recent Nobel Prize Winner in Medicine, Gregg Semenza, who also came and spoke.
The Murray Hendel Civic Achievement Award is the latest of many accolades Nancy Lascheid has received, including humanitarian, woman-of-the-year, outstanding citizen, and lifetime achievement honors. ¦
— A retired couch potato, Dave Trecker serves on a number of local boards.