It was felt that the approach to healthcare for those without insurance or low income was inadequate. This part of the community required a more integrated and personalized setup. It was with this goal, that The Rosa Health Center, a nonprofit 501 (c) 3 organization, opened its doors in 2015. Since then, it has been providing care to many underserved families in Delaware and for all age groups.
The model for this care that was chosen was that of the old-style “family doctor” office where the patient, the staff, and the doctor formed a trusting team relationship. The emphasis was prevention, education, and an understanding of health as a “well-being”, not just an absence of illness. As such, along with acute illness care, preventive services such as vaccinations, and women’s healthcare including pap exams and general health exams (from newborns and older) are provided. For example, for several years, a mammogram van would come to our office so women could walk to our office to get their mammograms. Now transportation is provided for those who qualify to take women to their mammograms.
From the moment we opened our doors, we also staffed a specialist to help clients enroll in the screening for life and healthcare connections programs. These programs benefit people without insurance to help cover their screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies. This in turn helps to catch the presence of cancer that might not otherwise be realized until too late. The enrollment specialist also helps clients connect with other community resources such as WIC.
Our commitment to a more integrated approach is exemplified by some of the different programs that we are networked with such as the Food Bank which gives us weekly food donations to distribute to families with children, the age 0-3 read-a-loud program that begins early educational enrichment, and the Rehoboth YMCA to whom we have sent children on a bus for free swimming lessons during the yearly spring break.
Our commitment to the community was dramatically demonstrated when we conducted the first community covid screening event in Georgetown, Delaware in April, 2020. Our results of 20/27 positive tests raised the alarm in our community, which was composed of many poultry factory workers. We then began weekly covid testing in the community including apartment complexes, homeless shelters, and home visits for more than a year, and then switched gears to provide covid vaccinations when they became available.
In line with our focus on the underserved, our location was selected to be in the heart of the town of Georgetown, which is the seat of Sussex County. It allows our office to be accessible to patients who need to walk due to a lack of transportation (such as homelessness). We had one mother who would carry her baby on her back (wrapped traditionally using a shawl) and walk to the office. We had another mother who knocked on our back doorstep with a four-year-old child who had the weight of a one-year baby. We were able to take care of them and get them connected with AI Dupont Children’s Hospital where the child underwent extensive and needed surgery.
We continue to strive to live up to the examples of compassion and caring set by the three Carmelite sisters: Sister Rosa (our namesake), Sister Maria, and Sister Ascension.