Well Child Clinic is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with an office inside the Steuben County Community Center in Angola. They provide preventative health care screenings for children from newborn through 18 years old. The organization was established in 1975 after the state health department contacted Joyce Gutstein about the need for a children’s health clinic.
Today, Well Child Clinic provides dental, vision, and physical screenings at no cost to families of Steuben County. With a team of 15 generous volunteer medical professionals, they ensure that families who can’t afford to access preventative care have a place to go for assistance. In some cases, Well Child Clinic will refer children to local dentists, optometrists, or clinics for follow-ups if required. They use donations and grant funding to help families pay for the additional medical services. Well Child Clinic also does labwork and provides sports physicals for students.
Well Child Clinic currently services somewhere around 185 exams per year. They were on track to surpass that number last year even with COVID-19. They closed the clinic in March 2020, but they reopened in July and have had full clinics since then. Well Child Clinic could accommodate up to 40 kids per month between dental, vision and physicals.
Mary Fatchett serves as executive director of the clinic. Her goal as director is to increase the number of kids who have their dental, vision, and physical issues checked out and treated early to prevent larger issues down the road. The quote “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is apt for describing their work.
Well Child Clinic also hopes to provide a relaxed and friendly atmosphere for children to interact with medical professionals. This can help reduce the anxiety they might feel walking into a medical appointment in the future. “Many children come in who need dental work, and that can cause major health problems down the road,” shared Mary.
The need for extra assistance is clear in Steuben County. According to Kids County Data Center, 15.8% of children under the age of 18 live in poverty in Steuben County as of 2019. It takes a whole community to care for our children’s health. Sometimes grandparents are the ones bringing children to the clinic. In some cases, families may qualify for health insurance but aren’t sure how to navigate the sign up process.
Well Child Clinic started a partnership connecting uninsured parents with Brightpoint to get their families signed up for health insurance coverage. Brightpoint is a nonprofit focused on the causes and conditions of poverty. They help low-income families access resources including child care, utility assistance, and other needs. Brightpoint has provided informational forms so that Well Child Clinic can continue directing people to that resource. Some families who have insurance still rely on Well Child Clinic because their deductibles are high or certain procedures are not covered fully.
In addition to Brightpoint, Well Child Clinic collaborates with the Steuben County Health Department and WIC (Women, Infants and Children), which operates next door to the clinic. And, they share information about upcoming clinics with Project Help and have assisted Compassion Pregnancy Center with providing prenatal vitamins. Well Child Clinic also collaborates with Faith Community Health Clinic, which serves uninsured adults in Steuben County who meet certain guidelines.
Mary’s favorite part is the children when they come in. She shared, “It’s fun to see things turn around with children. The people who we work with are terrific. We operate as a team, and all of us have to work together.” The collaborative nature of the organization is a bigger reflection on the community overall. She shared, “I’m proud of Steuben County, because we tend to help.”
Pictured is Dr. Baals of Midwest Eye Consultants.