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  • Standing on the shoulders of giants

    In 1676, Isaac Newton wrote a letter to one of his rivals, Robert Hooke, where he attributed his success to building on the work of people that came before him. As he put it, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

    Our board is in the middle of strategic planning, discussing the goals for Vibrant Health over the next three years, and I keep thinking about this quote. Our new brand, Vibrant Health, launched in January of 2018. But our organization has a powerful history, envisioned and created by giants. For almost thirty years, we have relied on the generosity of individuals, foundations and corporate philanthropy to support the vision and dedication of volunteers and staff.

    In 1990, Turner House Clinic, originally located in the Turner Community Center, was founded by the late Dr. Frank Vaughters and Episcopal Social Services. The clinic was led and operated through the years by volunteers like Dr. Tony Diehl, Dr. Keith Enlow, Dr. Roger Lambson, Dr. Sally Veenstra and many others. Soon after the establishment of the clinic, leaders from the medical community jumped in to support the effort in a variety of ways. They raised money, they recruited volunteers, and most importantly, they gave of their time to take care of patients in Wyandotte County.

    Since those early days, where we saw 450 patients annually, volunteers have led the growth of our services and the impact we have on families. Turner House has relied on community leaders to provide the direction, support and stability needed to increase the services we provide and the number of children we see. By the end of the first 10 years of operation, we hired full time providers and support staff and provided services to more than 4,000 patients annually.

    Recently, Turner House added dental and behavioral health services and further expanded our physical space in the Bethany Medical Building. This effort, and the addition of two clinic locations through our partnership with the University of Kansas Health System and the University of Kansas School of Nursing, have led to the designation of Federally Qualified Health Center Look Alike and the launch of the new brand, Vibrant Health.

    As our board discusses the future, and we talk about expansion of services to address social needs like food insecurity, smoking cessation, diabetes education and the expansion of clinical services and locations, we do so with a clear mission to help improve health care outcomes and access for families in Wyandotte County. But we also remember that we wouldn’t be able to look this positively to the future without the commitment and vision of those who built this organization.

    Author: Patrick Sallee

    Patrick Sallee is the CEO of Vibrant Health. Patrick has spent his career in the non-profit world because it allows him to pursue the issues he’s passionate about: providing opportunities for children, helping others, fighting for the underrepresented, and building communities. Patrick spends his spare time with his wife Chesney and twin daughters Avery and Makenna. He can be reached at psallee@vibrantwyandotte.org

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