2nd Annual Dinner on the Bridge kicks off ambitious community health fundraiser

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nd Annual Dinner on the Bridge. The fete showcased some of the best cuisine, drinks and music in the region. Winters High School culinary students, at the direction of Chris Novello, prepared delicious desserts, and Anderson Family Catering provided a dinner spread showcasing the country’s most bountiful agricultural region. Winters is renowned for its twilit outdoor fundraisers that draw civic-minded residents and foodies alike. This year’s event kicked off an especially ambitious community-led project: the capital campaign to expand the Winters Healthcare Foundation facilities. Ana Kormos, campaign manager for the capital campaign, spoke with the Express about the project, which has evolved, grown and now become a pressing concern as the 18-year-old Winters Healthcare Foundation is now struggling with major space constraints. Founded in 2000, the Winters Healthcare Foundation provides mental, dental and behavioral health services out of three locations in downtown Winters. In 2005 it qualified as a Federally Qualified Community Health Center, also known as a community clinic. “The space we now occupy was never meant to host a medical facility,” Kormos said, speaking of the Main Street storefront between the hardware store and the frozen yogurt shop. “Although we have been able to keep providing same-day service for medical, we’re bursting at the seams. The wait list for dental is currently six months.” The Foundation currently serves over 3000 patients, many with no insurance or access to dental care. The integrative model that encourages providers to work together for best patient outcomes received national attention in a time when appointment times are getting shorter and healthcare costs are skyrocketing. “The name of the foundation says it all. Our mission, and now our new facility expansion, is about building together for long term health and wellness, what we need for our future.” The planned facility is a 16,000 square foot building next to Yolo Federal Credit Union on East Grant Avenue that would bring medical, dental, behavioral health and administrative services under one roof. Apart from the obvious physical crowding the care team and patients currently experience, the Winters Healthcare Foundation completed a community needs assessment in late 2016 that identified a large area adjacent to Winters in Solano County with high rates of poverty and a primary care and dental provider shortage. The assessment indicated that over 3,000 low-income individuals are not receiving services from any clinic. With its expansion, the Winters Healthcare Foundation will be poised to not just improve its services to current patients but expand to serve a vulnerable and underserved population. Securing the needed 9.5 million dollars in funding has taken years. The community fundraising campaign seeks to raise the last $500,000 to pull the project across the finish line. “Some people have said it’s ridiculous; you can’t raise that kind of money. But it’s important that it come from the community. This is community investment and ownership of something we are creating for ourselves and for our future,” Kormos said. The community appears to agree. On Saturday evening new faces, longtime supporters, and state legislators all spoke to the need for the community to dig deep. Executive director Chris Kelsch spoke to the assembled crowd of the success of the Foundation to date and the potential of the expanded facilities. Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry said, “We absolutely know that Winters can and must do this. This facility is so important for our residents and for the health of our town. We know what we are capable of, and I look forward to this project getting funded.” Congressman John Garamendi also made a surprise appearance and spoke on behalf of the project. “We’re so grateful to the city, the board, volunteers, high school students, and families that came together to make this happen,” Kormos told the Express. “It’s been a long time in the making. We have a lot more work to do, but it’s what this community needs.” Learn more about the Winters Healthcare Foundation and the capital campaign at www.wintershealth.org.              ]]>

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