As COVID-19 continues to take its toll on businesses, one Gator Nurse’s nonprofit wellness center has carried on, providing health care and resources to a community in desperate need.
After the pandemic forced its closure in March, the Estella Byrd Whitman Wellness and Community Resource Center was able to reopen its doors as a medical clinic in August to once again provide services to the community. The center was established by Carolyn Adams (BSN 1972, MSN 1973) and opened in its permanent location in West Ocala in spring 2018.
Adams and her late husband, Arthur, recognized the need for the wellness center in the underserved community but experienced many years of delays in opening the clinic due to uninhabitable space, illness, funding and approvals.
The clinic provides primary care, labs, physicals and educational services while also partnering with a local dental clinic to provide dental services on a regular basis. In October, the clinic was approved to accept Medicare and Medicaid, which will assist in providing care to many of its patients.
Adams serves as the CEO and there are two volunteers — an educator and the medical director — and two employees — a community health worker and lawn/maintenance worker. As the medical director, Pamela Lewin, MD, has been at the side of Adams and her husband since the inception of the center. Lewin works without a salary because she believes in the project and wants to see it succeed.
Although Adams said she is worried because the annual golf tournament fundraiser had to be canceled this year due to the pandemic, the center’s new board just stepped up to the plate and promises to help make improvements to the center’s approach to obtaining donations and expanding clinical projects.
“The cancellation of the golf tournament was heartbreaking, as it was the center’s main source of revenue,” Adams said. “However, the new board presented me with a charge-forward attitude, and I am optimistic we can move forward with our mission.”