Women Who Care has its roots in the Women’s Giving Circle established by the Fort Memorial Hospital Foundation in 2004. A group of area women gathered for lunch once a quarter for information and inspiration about their health and well-being. Member contributions were gathered to fund various services at Fort HealthCare. A wide variety of projects were included over the years including hospital equipment, new health and wellness services, and scholarships.
In 2014, a group of members had an idea to expand the way the group functioned. Their idea was to engage the membership to determine ways in which the group could make a measurable impact on the health and well-being of people in our area. From that beginning, a Governing Committee was formed and the group set out to identify opportunities for service.
In the spring of 2015, the membership voted to focus on the health of youth in our area for its first project as Women Who Care. At the same time, the Whitewater Unified School District was seeking assistance for students who needed behavioral health services. Women Who Care decided to fund a pilot project to have a counselor available in the school serving students whose behavioral health needs were disruptive to education in the classroom.
That pilot project bloomed into the program that currently serves the Whitewater, Jefferson, and Fort Atkinson schools. Because of the leadership of Women Who Care, this program is having an impact to help students overcome the effects of stress, anxiety, depression, and trauma that impedes their ability to participate in classroom activities.
Women Who Care has grown due to the success of the School-Based Behavioral Health Counseling program and news ways of engaging members and the community. The group holds two luncheons and two social events each year to strengthen relationships among members through fun activities and education about health-related issues facing our communities.
In 2019, Women Who Care funded an educational opportunity for the School Nurse Team.
Fort HealthCare’s School Nurses serve nine area school districts. School nursing is not just scrapes and tummy aches. The nurses helps students manage chronic disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure or epilepsy, take medications that require assistance, and have helped with students in need of support for behavioral health.
Training in Motivational Interviewing provided them with new tools to get students to set priorities for their care based on the activities that are important during the student’s school day. This process also helps students and their parents to more fully engage in their own care and understand the importance of maintaining their care regimens.
Leadership training provided the school nurses with new tools to improve communication with school staff and leadership. Our school nurses also help school staff and family members understand the care each of these students need away from the nurse’s office.