Bridging the Health Gap - The Bend Magazine

Bridging the Health Gap

How one community organization is changing the way the Coastal Bend approaches health and wellness

By: Mindy Mayden   Photo by: RachelbrBenavides

The Coastal BendbrWellness Foundation is a community health center with a heavy emphasis onbrcommunity. Their goal is to address the health disparities of the Coastal Bend.brCEO Bill Hoelscher says the Foundation goes by the mantra, “for the sake of one.” Ifbrthey help one person, the Foundation considers itself successful. However, by servingbr12 counties spanning over 11,000 square miles, the center’s reach far exceeds thatbrgoal.

In order tobrbridge gaps in the community’s health system, the Coastal Bend WellnessbrFoundation spearheads a myriad of projects ranging from prostitution diversionbrto behavioral and psychological health. The center’s holistic approach tobrpatient and community care has also led to projects like “Breast Friends,” thebronly program in Texas that provides free mastectomy bras and prosthetics tobrwomen who have undergone mastectomies. The grassroots program now serves morebrthan 250 women per year.

In addition tobrtreating patients onsite at the health center and providing support servicesbrsuch as labs and X-rays, the Foundation wants to provide health and wellnessbreducation in order to promote lasting change. The Foundation’s preventionbrdepartment’s task is to go to schools, prisons, and local businesses to providebreducation and free health testing services to the entire Coastal Bend. The communitybrmobilization group aims to improve area health conditions through stricterbrhealth laws.

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


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