Project Access featured in the WNC Bridge Foundation's 2019 Impact Report

August 25, 2020

WE CAN: Addressing Urgent Health Care Needs in Buncombe & Madison Counties

With its roots having formed in the 19th century, the Western Carolina Medical Society Foundation (WCMSF) has been a stronghold in the community, serving to improve access to healthcare, fight health inequities and promote wellness in Western North Carolina. The WCMSF is a group of physicians and community leaders who volunteer their time and talents to connect low-income, uninsured patients with free or low-cost comprehensive medical care. The foundation’s network provides everything from primary care to major surgeries to cancer care and is the only organization in Buncombe and Madison counties carrying out such a hefty mission.

In 2019, WNC Bridge Foundation awarded $477,891 to WCMSF to address urgent health care needs through its Wellness Emergency Community Action Network (We Can). With too many in our community experiencing food insecurity and housing/utility insecurity, living a day-to-day life is difficult in and of itself and even more so for those whose primary language is not English. WCMSF saw the need to expand its services beyond simply medical care.

Leveraging their flagship Project Access® (PA) program, WCMSF established formal relationships with area non-profits, developed processes and procedures for referring clients, and recruited bilingual community health workers to make this happen. With funds from WNC Bridge Foundation’s Impact Grant, PA has formalized new partnerships with MANNA FoodBank, Bounty & Soul, the Council on Aging of Buncombe County and Pisgah Legal Services. They invested in training their Community Health Worker staff and Certified Application Counselors who are now versed in NCCARE360, a referral and tracking platform. WCMSF also added three new staff members and increased their presence in area clinics. All this to help to identify areas of strength and opportunity.

“None of this would have been possible without the support of the WNC Bridge Foundation … Providing these important services is more essential now than ever as COVID-19 has created an unprecedented need for support with medical care, food and safe housing,” said Kylie Bechdolt, Development & Project Manager for WCMSF.

Now a stronghold in the community, Project Access® has been helping low-income, uninsured individuals access life-saving medical care at low or no cost since 1996 and expanded in 2018 to serve Madison County as well as Buncombe County. The program has served more than 67,000 people since its inception and even has been replicated in hundreds of communities throughout the United States, thus increasing the positive impact on the lives of low-income, uninsured people.

To view the impact report, click here.