Imagine for a moment
that you are a single mother of three young children, working two part-
time jobs, but neither of them offers health insurance. You’ve been in severe pain for the last
several days. Finally, you have no choice but to take off work and get a friend to watch the kids
so you can go to the free clinic where the doctors, nurses, and staff volunteer their time. The
doctor there examines you and wants to send you right away for a CT scan. With no insurance
and no savings, the cost of that test makes it completely out of your reach. Now panic and
worry join the pain.
Marilee (not her real name) found herself in just that predicament. Without a CT, the doctor
could not make a certain diagnosis and without a diagnosis, no treatment could be planned.
Fortunately, she had gone to Lazarus Free Clinic in Wildwood. It was there she learned about the “Bridge the Gap” program funded by two area Rotary Clubs and administered through Langley Health Services. Being low-income and having no insurance, Marilee qualified for a grant. Rotary Club of The Villages-Evening and Rotary Club of The Villages (Morning) designed the “Bridge the Gap” program in August, 2022, for just these situations. Working with Lazarus Free Clinic and Langley Health Services (a non-profit Federally Qualified Healthcare Organization in Sumterville), the Rotary clubs set up a grant for qualified individuals that pays for urgently needed diagnostic imaging. The clubs provided initial funding of $10,000.
Since August, 2022, additional contributions from the clubs and other donations have helped almost 200 patients get medically necessary CT’s, MRI’s, Ultrasounds, and Mammograms. The results of these tests have enabled the doctors to find appropriate treatment plans for their patients. Some of the tests are life-changing; some of them are life-saving. Such was the case for Marilee. During the CT, it was discovered that she had a kidney stone so large that it was completely blocking the flow of urine, causing enormous and dangerous swelling of her kidney. Based on these crucial findings, Marilee was immediately sent to the hospital for emergency surgery. It was getting the CT that led to prompt treatment, eliminating any further damage or certain death of her kidney. Marilee is only one of many patients that Bridge the Gap has helped. Some patients, like Marilee, need immediate treatment; others are referred to cancer centers or specialists for treatment.
Bridge the Gap grants have provided over $25,000 of tests that have changed or saved lives. Contributions to the “Bridge the Gap” fund enable the continuation of this vital program. All donations are tax-deductible and 100% goes towards urgent diagnostic imaging services. To donate online, visit www.rotaryvillagesevening.com or send your check, payable to “Rotary Club of The Villages-Evening Foundation” and write “Bridge the Gap” in the memo line. Mail to PO Box 465, Lady Lake, FL 32158.
PHOTO: L-R Lynda Simpson, 3 volunteers from Lazarus Free Clinic, Pixie Wilder, RC of The Villages Morning Kneeling Evening Rotary President, Kat Sizemore, Julie Schmied.