Clinic facilities

Nancy Lascheid, founder of Naples-based health clinic, dies at 85

A tireless advocate for the underserved who was described as the Mother Teresa of Naples died on Monday.

Nancy Lascheid, co-founder of the Neighborhood Health Clinic in Naples, died at home of an illness. She was 85 years old.

Lascheid has dedicated the last 23 years of his life to the clinic, which has changed the lives of thousands of people in the community and will continue to do so for years to come.

her and her her late husband, Dr. William Lascheid, opened Neighborhood Health in 1999 to provide a medical home for the working poor who do not have health insurance and who would be deprived of care without the clinic. William Lascheid died in 2014 at age 88.

Being deeply spiritual, she believed they acted on prayer to give themselves through the clinic. She was known for her big heart, her skill at courting donors and her amazing ability to win over everyone she met.

“When you are called to serve a mission, it touches your heart,” Lascheid said in 2014 of the clinic’s success for a WGCU Public Media Program, “Makers – Women who Make Southwest Florida.”

“Professionally, I’m fulfilling my dream as a nurse and emotionally, I’m fulfilling my passion for health care for the poor,” she said.

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Easily recognizable in a crowded banquet hall at charity luncheons by his eye-catching white hair, Lascheid networked easily.

She was determined to focus on how the clinic could evolve to offer more to her patients, whose well-being was at the forefront of everything she did, her colleagues say.

Nancy Lascheid Naples Neighborhood Health Clinic

Erika Hinson, a registered nurse volunteer at the clinic since it opened, said Lascheid was a force to be reckoned with, who could get anyone to do anything with a warm smile, a wink and a “let’s go”.

“It didn’t matter if you were a migrant farm worker or a millionaire, (she) treated you with respect, empathy and kindness,” Hinson said. “His positivity was contagious.”

How the neighborhood health clinic was born

The Neighborhood Clinic first opened in a given space in two moldy storefronts in the nearly derelict plaza of Grand Central Station between Goodlette-Frank Road and Tenth Street South. The site is where the Naples Square condominiums are being built.

Today, the clinic has its own immaculate compound at 88 12th St. N., thanks in large part to Lascheid’s work with her daughter, Leslie Lascheid, who became the clinic’s executive director in 2012.

The duo have persevered in a Herculean quest in recent years to complete a nearly $13 million expansion — made possible by loyal donors — so patients have a unified campus for comprehensive outpatient services, including care. dental and specialized clinics.

Today, the clinic includes 32,000 square feet of building space with sunny hallways and comfortable patient care areas, as well as preventative wellness and education programs.

Edward Morton, former president and CEO of the NCH Healthcare System, described Nancy Lascheid a few years ago as the Mother Teresa of Naples.

She was unwavering in her focus on improving the lives of underserved people in the community, he said.

“She was a saint to me,” Morton said. “Her and her husband.”

Today, there are more than 15,000 patients in the Neighborhood database and 11,000 patients visit each year, according to Keith Maples, the clinic’s director of development.

The volunteer medical staff exceeds 700, including 250 doctors, 100 nurses, 50 dentists and more than 300 in non-medical fields. There are 14 full-time and four part-time employees, he said.

Leslie Lascheid, general manager of the Neighborhood Health Clinic in Naples, addresses supporters on November 9, 2021 to celebrate the completion of the multi-year expansion.

Dr. Paul Jones, one of the clinic’s first volunteer doctors, said Lascheid will be remembered as a true pioneer in the community.

“I’m sad but I’m lucky to have known her,” Jones said. “She made a huge difference in the community. It’s a difference that will last for generations.

His wife, Susan Jones, a registered nurse who volunteers at the clinic and who chaired the clinic’s annual fundraiser for 21 years, said no one could ever say “no” to Lascheid.

“Everything she touched turned to gold,” Jones said. “She was a special woman.”

Nancy Lascheid, co-founder of Neighborhood Health Clinic, speaks to supporters Nov. 9, 2021.

The clinic’s annual operating budget is $3 million, while $21 million in services are provided based on the value of medical care given, Maples said.

If possible, patients donate $20 per month for clinic overhead.

Paul Jones said the clinic had a new structure from the start where patients had to work to qualify, be low income and uninsured.

“Nobody’s ever called patients that way before,” Jones said.

Having patients contribute $20 a month gives them ownership of their own health, he said.

Lascheid’s legacy will live on

The Lascheids arrived in Naples in 1977 from Pittsburgh. She worked with her husband in his private medical practice which he opened in 1982. They both retired in 1998 and within days their selfless mission began.

William Lascheid said he couldn’t stop being a doctor. He also couldn’t help but think of the patients who worked grueling hours as gardeners, cooks, construction workers and cleaners in hotels, and how they couldn’t get regular medical care because their job did not pay well or provide health insurance.

He broached the idea with his wife of opening a clinic that would be dedicated to the working poor of Collier County residents.

Temporary signs at the Naples Neighborhood Health Clinic on Wednesday, February 27, 2019.

They invited a dozen friends in one evening to gauge interest. All were on board.

They enlisted doctors and nurses, a lawyer and an accountant to make the clinic a reality. There was no turning back.

Morton helped NCH donate the two Grand Central Station storefronts, owned at the time by the hospital system.

Doctors and medical practices donated used equipment and furniture. The waiting room was tiny. On opening night, there were eight patients.

Three years later, the clinic was packed and needed permanent accommodation.

The neighborhood moved in 2002 to its own building on Goodlette-Frank Road, a few blocks north of Central Avenue. He later acquired the acreage immediately south to the intersection of Central for expansions.

“To see what the (clinic) has become is amazing,” Morton said.

Neighborhood Health Clinic co-founder Nancy Lascheid stacks bags of donated goods from St. Matthew's House, Friday, May 1, 2020, in Naples.

John Cardillo, chairman of the clinic’s board of directors, said in an email that Nancy Lascheid’s death is a blow to medical progress in the community and around the state.

She and her late husband fought almost alone to bring sovereign immunity protection to charitable medical clinics in Florida so volunteer doctors and dentists could treat patients without worrying about legal action, Cardillo said.

“She didn’t tolerate fools, was decisive and clear thinking, and had a heart of gold and a commitment to a divinely inspired mission,” Cardillo said.

His legacy of improving the lives of those less fortunate will live on, he said.

“Certainly, the entire neighborhood health clinic is in mourning, but because of Nancy’s dynamic vision and unwavering leadership. Now, thanks to his daughter, CEO Leslie Lascheid, it will continue to prosper and grow and the low-income patients it serves will continue to receive first-class medical care,” Cardillo said.

Some early on who doubted the clinic would stay open for long, especially with a firm policy of not accepting government money, may not have known how determined Nancy Lascheid could be, or how and her late husband were unstoppable together.

At fundraisers for the clinic, Nancy was detailed talking to donors about future plans while her husband was the emotional one talking about patient needs and would have tears in his eyes, Paul Jones said.

Sharon Sicliano, left, checks Debra Riley's vital signs at the Neighborhood Health Clinic in Naples on Monday, May 14, 2018.

Collier County Commissioner Burt Saunders, who represented Southwest Florida in the Florida Senate for 10 years until 2008, recalls offering to help the neighborhood clinic secure funding from the State and how Nancy Lascheid refused. It was crucial that the clinic maintain its independence, she would tell him.

“It’s a tribute to her,” Saunders said.

Few people other than the Lascheids could have garnered the broad support of the medical community to offer their professional services to care for patients, he said.

“Nancy Lascheid and her late husband were so dedicated to Collier County that they literally spent their lives caring for others,” Saunders said. “They were real officials.”

The couple received numerous awards and accolades. In 2019, she received the Murray Hendel Civic Achievement Award. In 2012, she and her husband were Hodges University Humanitarians of the Year.

In 2001, they were Naples Daily News’ Outstanding Citizens of the Year.

They also received the Point of Life Award for the State of Florida and the National Jefferson Award for Public Service, among other honors.

Jeff Lytle, former editorial page editor of the Naples Daily News, said Lascheid and her husband identified a problem and educated a wealthy community about people who live and work in Collier but cannot afford to pay for basic health care, he said.

“His team was and remains committed to his unwavering vision, which continues to add services to keep up with changing needs,” Lytle said. “And to think that the clinical culture started with just an idea, a mall storefront and a very special couple.”

A celebration of Nancy Lascheid’s life and legacy will be held at the clinic in November, Maples said. Donations or donations made in her memory of Nancy can be made to: Neighborhood Health Clinic Endowment Fund. The address is 88 12th St N, Suite 100, Naples, FL 34102.