Care Alliance Attempts to Renew Mission toward Those without Medical Coverage

by Kylene Golubski

     Care Alliance is starting the new year with new CEO Linda Somers, and a renewed focus on its mission to provide free, high quality healthcare and related services to the homeless and low-income of greater Cleveland. Somers has served as interim CEO since October when John J. McKinney resigned, and was asked in early January to assume the position permanently.

     “I am emotionally involved with this agency and committed to reaching more of the needy in our community by providing easier, more convenient access to our services,” stated Somers. “We want to expand the number of locations we provide service from, primarily through strengthened partnerships with other providers in the homeless arena.” Care Alliance’s long list of partnerships includes The Cleveland Catholic Charities, The Salvation Army, and The Cleveland Clinic.

     Care Alliance is still tabulating the numbers for 2002, but estimates it serviced 3,300 individuals during 2001. Somers expects this number to increase in 2003 because of both an increase in need, and the organization’s increased ability to service the outlying counties.

     “Key to achieving our goals is finding more people willing to donate their time and volunteer,” stated Somers. “This agency has done a fantastic job with limited resources, but we’ll need more doctors, nurses and clerical support to fuel our expansion.”

     Securing additional funding will be another challenge. Care Alliance’s current funding sources include The Department of Health and Human Services’ Bureau of Primary Care, the United Way, and a handful of private donors.

     “We will be exploring additional grants that the agency may be eligible for and I’d like to get more private donors on board as well,” stated Somers.

     Additional recent personnel changes within the agency include the departure of Jay Gardner Director of Development, and Art Wicinski, part-time CFO. Brian Merlini is the current Finance Director and the Director of Development is not immediately being filled.

     Somers posseses extensive experience in both healthcare administration and non-profit agency management. Her list of credentials includes serving as senior vice president of Holy Cross Hospital and management positions with Kaiser, Prudential and Anthem. She recently completed two years of charity work with the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic before returning to Cleveland.

     “I wanted to get back closer to the people, to have direct interaction and impact,” stated Somers when  asked why she accepted the CEO position permanently.

     Those in need of medical treatment can currently go to one of the following Cleveland locations: The Riverview Towers at 1795 West 25th, The King Kennedy Estates at 6001 Woodland Avenue, the City Mission at 2100 Lakeside, or the Care Alliance Homeless Person’s Health Center at 2227 Payne Avenue.

Copyright The Homeless Grapevine Issue 59, February-March 2003, Cleveland, Ohio