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The Bend Magazine

Bridging the Health Gap

09/27/2018 04:47PM ● By Jordan Regas

By: Mindy Mayden   Photo by: Rachel Benavides

The Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation is a community health center with a heavy emphasis on community. Their goal is to address the health disparities of the Coastal Bend. CEO Bill Hoelscher says the Foundation goes by the mantra, “for the sake of one.” If they help one person, the Foundation considers itself successful. However, by serving 12 counties spanning over 11,000 square miles, the center’s reach far exceeds that goal.

In order to bridge gaps in the community’s health system, the Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation spearheads a myriad of projects ranging from prostitution diversion to behavioral and psychological health. The center’s holistic approach to patient and community care has also led to projects like “Breast Friends,” the only program in Texas that provides free mastectomy bras and prosthetics to women who have undergone mastectomies. The grassroots program now serves more than 250 women per year.

In addition to treating patients onsite at the health center and providing support services such as labs and X-rays, the Foundation wants to provide health and wellness education in order to promote lasting change. The Foundation’s prevention department’s task is to go to schools, prisons, and local businesses to provide education and free health testing services to the entire Coastal Bend. The community mobilization group aims to improve area health conditions through stricter health laws.

In March 2019, the Foundation, which has grown to a team of 70 staff members, will move into a new 2,500 square foot location at 2882 Holly Road. Part of the new building will house the Coastal Bend’s first LGBTQ+ resource center, providing a safe place for the LGBTQ+ community to gather, socialize, and receive services. Based on positive feedback and his experiences with the community’s open-mindedness, Hoelscher has high hopes for the new center’s success. “I get very excited when I see how our city embraces change,” he says.

With such a wide range of services available to all residents, Hoelscher wants the Coastal Bend to know that at the heart, “We are an organization that truly wants to make a difference and have an impact on people’s lives. We are here and ready to serve. As a community, nothing is insurmountable, as long as we face it together with kindness and respect.”