The Western Carolina Medical Society Foundation’s Project Access® Fund Renamed in honor of Founder Dr. Suzanne Landis

November 19, 2018

The Western Carolina Medical Society Foundation (WCMSF) has recently announced the renaming of its Project Access® Fund to the Dr. Suzanne Landis Project Access® Fund, according to CEO/Executive Director Miriam Schwarz.

Project Access® is a ground-breaking physician volunteer initiative providing access to comprehensive medical care for low-income uninsured Buncombe and Madison County residents since 1996. More than 2,500 low-income individuals in Buncombe and Madison Counties receive healthcare through Project Access® annually.

A dedicated network of more than 500 Buncombe County physicians along with Mission Hospital, local pharmacies, WCMSF Interpreter Network Interpreters, mental health providers, community service navigators, generous volunteers--all supported by donations from businesses and individuals in the community, provide healthcare through Project Access® to individuals in Buncombe and Madison Counties at low or no cost. Project Access® is not health insurance, it is however a way to help our community members stabilize their health so that health insurance is more attainable.

“It was the first time that charity care from physicians was truly comprehensive and continuous,” says Landis. “Before, doctors would donate their services in an uncoordinated, intermittent way, and without the support of laboratories, pharmacies or hospitals. That care was limited,” she adds.

Project Access® has received numerous accolades in the last 20 years, including the Innovations in American Government Award. More than 120 communities across the country have replicated the Project Access® model.

Since 1987, Landis has been a member of the Mountain Area Health Education Center Family Practice Residency Program, in Asheville, helping to train the next generation of family practice physicians. She is also a tenured professor in the Departments of Family Medicine and Internal Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a Research Fellow at the UNC Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research. And she is Adjunct Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the UNC School of Public Health.

As a precursor to Project Access®, in the mid-1980s Landis spearheaded a major initiative during the first challenging days of HIV/AIDS treatment to assure access to care for AIDS victims. During the late 1990s, she stimulated the creation of an innovative approach to improve identification and treatment of depression which fostered formation of a community-wide initiative to integrate comprehensive mental health services into primary care settings.

Author of numerous publications and international, national and local presentations, Landis was presented with the 2002 E. Harvey Estes, MD, Physician Community Service Award for exemplary services to the community by the North Carolina Medical Society. In 2001 Project Access received the National Acts of Caring Award from the National Association of County Organizations.

Milestones in Dr. Landis’s Start of Project Access®


Receives Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant to implement Buncombe County Medical Society Project Access® to provide health care to the indigent


Signs Cooperative Agreement with U.S. Bureau of Primary Health Care to help establish Project Access®-type systems in other communities


This year, Project Access® is celebrating 22 years of service to the community. The program has served over 62,000 patients totaling over $178 million in charity care. Thanks to the vision of Dr. Landis, Project Access® will continue to make an invaluable impact on the community. 

More information about The Dr. Suzanne Landis Project Access® Fund or about Western Carolina Medical Society Foundation contact Miriam Schwarz, CEO/Executive Director at 828-274.2267 or

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Donate to the Dr. Suzanne Landis Project Access Fund!


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