Western Carolina Medical Society Foundation Receives COVID-19 “Fill the Gap” Grant from North Carolina Healthcare Foundation

August 6, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                           

Western Carolina Medical Society Foundation Receives COVID-19 “Fill the Gap” Grant from North Carolina Healthcare Foundation

Funds will support the Foundation’s Interpreter Network and Healthy Healer Program

Asheville, NC – August 3, 2020 – The Western Carolina Medical Society Foundation (WCMSF) was recently awarded a $150,000 grant through the North Carolina Healthcare Foundation’s COVID-19 Fill the Gap Response Fund. The Fill the Gap Fund was created to rapidly meet critical needs of organizations across North Carolina as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding for WCMSF will be used to address the interpreter/translation needs of immigrants, particularly the LatinX population, via the WCMSF’s Interpreter Network (WIN). The funding will also support frontline medical professionals by allowing for the provision of free counseling services through WCMSF’s Healthy Healer Program (HHP).

Mariela Solano, WCMSF’s Director of Health Access and Equity Programs shares:

“WIN is grateful to the NCHF for awarding this grant that will allow the interpreter network to strengthen our technological capacities, such as Video Remote Interpreting (VRI), so that we will be able to reach more limited English proficient (LEP) and Deaf/hard of hearing communities than ever before. In particular, the LatinX communities in WNC have been hard hit by the pandemic. The equipment that we will be able to purchase is important for the successful delivery of services. They include things like supplies for remote interpretation, tablets, and good quality headsets. WIN prides itself in providing the highest quality interpretation services and so we are very pleased to have funding for continuing education and training. The grant will also support 2 to 4 on call, on demand interpreters responding to urgent requests. Simply put, this grant will allow WIN to serve the LEP and Deaf /hard of hearing communities in a greater capacity.”

Miriam Schwarz, CEO of WCMS expresses her gratitude for the support of the HHP through this grant, stating that “A WCMS membership survey conducted in January of 2020—before the pandemic arrived here in WNC-- revealed that 68% of respondents were burned out sometimes, often or always. The pandemic has only exacerbated pre-existing burnout. This grant ensures free, confidential and easy access to private, professional mental health services through WCMS’ Healthy Healer Program so that physicians and providers can continue providing the highest level of care possible to those in need. The grant will cover the cost of six therapy appointments per person for up to 30 physicians/providers. We are thrilled that the Healthy Healer Program is now available to our physician and provider members at no charge.”

The Fill the Gap fund, which in total has distributed nearly $3.5 million to organizations across North Carolina through two rounds, has assisted communities disproportionally impacted by COVID-19, including people of color, frontline essential workers, and rural communities. In the second round, the average grant size is $102,765. Lead funders include the David A. Tepper Foundation, Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, State Employees’ Credit Union Foundation, and The Duke Endowment.

About North Carolina Healthcare Foundation

Established in 1961, the North Carolina Healthcare Foundation is the 501(c)(3) affiliate of the North Carolina Healthcare Association. Its mission is to foster and accelerate the collective impact of hospitals, health systems and community partners to improve the health of North Carolinians.


The WCMS Foundation is the physician and community-led charitable arm of the Western Carolina Medical Society advocating to increase access to quality healthcare, fight health inequities, and promote wellness in WNC patients, providers, and WCMS employees.

For more information about the Western Carolina Medical Society contact Miriam Schwarz, CEO/Executive Director at 828-274.2267 or ceo@mywcms.org.