12/06/07 — WATCH anticipates new grant

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WATCH anticipates new grant

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on December 6, 2007 2:02 PM

WATCH anticipates its largest grant to date in the new year, which could enable the organization to increase staff and double the number of patients served, officials said this week.

Sissy Lee-Elmore, executive director of WATCH -- Wayne Action Teams for Community Health -- made the announcement during the year-end board of directors meeting on Wednesday. She said she will have more details about the actual amount of the three-year grant once official notification is received from the Duke Endowment.

She suggested that the amount for the first year of the grant could be in the neighborhood of $240,000, with years two and three to be contingent on criteria set by endowment officials.

Money for the non-profit would allow for expansion of services, Ms. Lee-Elmore said, including the "care team" of nursing staff, as well as the capability to see more patients.

That will come in especially handy since the current nurse practitioner, Sue Barnett, has announced she is leaving the position Dec. 21. Recruitment efforts with the hospital are currently under way, Ms. Lee-Elmore said.

Local funding support, particularly from the city and county, has been especially helpful in securing additional grant money to expand services, she said.

"That's what they're looking for is the local support," she said.

"I think the city and county money has put us on the map. It has kept us at a level where we can continue services. We can go and get money and do other things."

When funding sources see that local support is already in place, they are more likely to do likewise, she added.

"Plus, we provide good services, we do the paperwork, they know that we're going to be a good steward of the money. I think that's what made the difference for us," she said.

Bill Paugh, CEO of Wayne Memorial Hospital, said that WATCH has proven to meet the needs of the community, and is being "held out as a model for others across the state."

Dr. Jonathan Barnes, a psychologist and member of the board since the program began 11 years ago, also praised the progress that has been made over the years.

"This is an endeavor like the soup kitchen that really tries to help people ... people that have no place else to go," he said. "You think of what we can do to help the least among us and this is certainly an endeavor."

Board member Dr. George Mayo has also been associated with WATCH since the inception. He said when the notion was first introduced, he realized it was "a very futuristic attitude for this hospital" and yet couldn't help but wonder how it was going work out.

"I have been very inspired and delighted," he said. "It's gratifying to me to think that we do have an organization like this in our county. I really think it's a compliment to the hospital."