Dave’s favorite moment of the day is when he gets home from work and pretends he’s the “Top Chef” of Hubertus.

“At five o’clock I go into the kitchen and just start creating,” said Dave.

His passion for food and cooking are evident from the moment you meet him. Dave loves sharing his favorite recipes with his close friend Linda.

“He is also a great baker, and occasionally brings in some sweets for us,” said Linda.

Linda and Dave aren’t co-workers. They didn’t meet in a grocery store, or at a restaurant. Linda is a registered nurse at the United Way-funded Community Health Outreach Clinic in Menomonee Falls.

She’s been treating Dave since he walked into the clinic seven years ago with Type-2 diabetes.

“At the time I was working construction for the union,” Dave said. “Then I got laid off, so I was on unemployment.” The sudden change left Dave unable to cover the costs of his prescriptions.

According to the Wisconsin Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (WAFCC) 52% of the currently uninsured have experienced a major life change in the past 12 months, 31% have an ongoing medical condition, and 58% have $100 or less left every month after paying bills.

Dave fit all three of those criteria.

“Unfortunately, what happened to Dave is very common in our Southeast Wisconsin community,” said Bailey Murph, Health Portfolio Manager for United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County. “United Way believes everyone deserves access to quality health care, despite the inability to pay. Our partnership with Community Health Outreach Clinic allows us to reach community members who need support at critical times, while also helping them to maintain their sense of dignity. It is important that folks like Dave receive the care they need to live healthy and productive lives.”

“Even with increased access to health insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act, critical gaps remain, leaving thousands of Wisconsinites without health care,” said Carroll Delaney, Development Officer at Community Memorial Foundation. “Thanks to funding from United Way, the Community Outreach Health Clinic is able to provide a ‘medical home’ to patients like Dave who fall in that gap and need that ongoing care, but are unable to afford a high insurance premium.”  

“As the cost of health insurance continues to rise, many of our patients have to decide, do I pay that? Or do I pay my rent or get food?” said Linda. “These are hard decisions they are making on a daily basis.”

Last year, United Way Health Care Access programs reported 95% of their clients felt that by attending these programs they had ownership over their own care and 85% felt their pain was relieved or managed.

Today Dave is grateful United Way and the clinic were there to provide him the health services he needed to get back on his feet.

“I’ve lost 80-90 pounds, and overall I feel so much healthier,” Dave said.

With his health in check Dave was also able to go back to college and earn a two-year accounting degree. He now works full-time in the accounting department at HT Enterprises in Campbellsport.

As for his “second” job as chef, anything is possible.

“Last night I created an alternative to a corn dog by using ground up shrimp. It turned out tasting better than I thought,” laughed Dave.

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