The Senior Friendship Health Center in Collier County provides aid to thousands of elderly in need in Collier County.
Founded in 1973 by Brother William Geenen, a member of the Congregation of the Holy Cross Order of Notre Dame University, tens of thousands of older adults in Southwest Florida have benefited from the Friendship Centers’ programs and services.
“Most health clinics provide help to those in the working class who can’t afford healthcare,” MJ Scarpelli, Director of Development and Marketing, said. “We want to help the older adults who can’t work and can’t afford proper healthcare.”
The belief in community and “people helping people” has been the cornerstone of the Friendship Center since its inception four decades ago. Operating with a staff composed entirely of volunteers, the Collier County Friendship Center provides medical and dental care for those living under the poverty line.
“Most of our patients live about 200 percent under the poverty line,” Scarpelli said. “That means they live off of about $24,000 a year.”
The Collier County Friendship Center also provides services in Gynecology, Dermatology, Ophthalmology, ENT, Cardiology and Endocrinology.
“Approximately 80 percent of our patients are insulin-dependant,” Scarpelli said. “That’s why it’s important for us to have our medical personnel volunteers and funds like our ‘Friend in Need Uninsured Patient fund’ to ensure we can provide the proper care of equipment to those who need it.”
The Senior Friendship Health Center has locations in five counties in Florida: Charlotte, Lee, Collier, Desoto and Sarasota County.
“Each location has different preferences, like how Collier focuses on dental and medical,” Scarpelli said. “But that sense of friendship is what makes all locations special.”
Founded in a Baptist church in Downtown Naples, it only seems right that the Senior Friendship Health Center provides a wide array of services at little to no cost.
“We understand people go through rough times,” Scarpelli said. “That’s why we have a sliding-scale fee of $25 to $50 depending on the type of appointment the patient is coming in for, and whether or not they can afford it.”
The Senior Friendship Health Center is expected to have over 2,100 patient visits in 2018, continuing their organizational goal of “Empowering the older generation through promoting and providing the resources to have an independant and healthy lifestyle.”
“We are always looking for more volunteers to come help out,” Scarpelli said. “We have a doctor who’s been coming here for more than 15 years who always says, ‘this place needs the community and the community needs this place,’ and I think that fits pretty nicely here.”
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