Door County clinic a reminder that poor exist across area
Partnership covers healthcare needs for women
By Joanne Flemming
Team work and a grassroots effort have made it possible for poor
women in Door and Kewaunee counties to receive low-cost or
no-cost health services.
The Open Door Community Health Center in Sturgeon Bay and an
outreach program for women in Algoma serves people who have no
health insurance or who are under-insured.
Josephine Guenzel, RN, clinic director, said the health center
offers a free clinic from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and a women's
program from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The women's program is available from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the
first and third Thursdays of each month at the Bellin Family
Medical Clinic in Algoma.
The Open Door Health Center is sponsored by Door County Memorial
Hospital, which is part of Ministry Health Care.
Work on organizing the Open Door Health Center began in November
1999 when Guenzel met with two community members to discuss how
to provide low-cost women's health care.
The biggest obstacle was finding a building. Door County Memorial
Hospital offered the Door County Medical Center, which once held
19 physicians' offices.
Both the hospital and Ministry Health Care wanted to know how
they could help "because our missions are the same - to take care
of the poor, to serve the poor," Guenzel said.
Aurora Health Care provided examination tables and other
supplies, plus equipment from the former physicians' offices.
Guenzel said the hospital showed "significant support" by paying
lab charges for the free clinic and providing free chest x-rays,
which are read at no charge by a radiologist. If additional x-ray
or lab work is needed, the patient is referred to the hospital's
community care program, which provides charity care, Guenzel
The free clinic saw 220 patients from its opening on June 14,
2000, through December. Guenzel estimated that about half were
Hispanic, especially in the late summer and early fall. A
volunteer interpreter helped them.
The clinic is staffed by volunteer physicians, physicians'
assistants, nurses, social services professionals and support
personnel. Open Door provides basic care including primary,
non-emergency care, health education, limited pharmacy and basic
diagnostic tests. Dental services will be provided in the future.
Counseling services, provided by Catholic Charities, are also
offered at the clinic site. These services are offered to all
regardless of their ability to pay.
Patients served at the clinic must be at or below 185% of federal
poverty guidelines and be uninsured or underinsured.
When they come to the clinic, they meet with a community resource
person who can refer them to other services they might need.
The women's program in Sturgeon Bay also opened last June 2000
and the Algoma branch started in February. The program saw around
200 women last year, Guenzel said.
As a Wisconsin Well Women Program - 90% of the women come in
under that - it provides PAP tests, pelvic exams, and mammograms.
Gruenzel says the program provides a variety of "all options"
"We will give them a name and address," she said. "We aren't
doing anything beyond giving them a name and address where they
can go for further counseling."
The clinic also provides screenings for cardiovascular disease,
depressions, osteoporosis, cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension
and domestic abuse. Extensive adoption counseling and OB/GYN
referrals are also provided.
For more information on the Open Door Community Health Center,