Teresa Lovelady, MSW, MBA, President & CEO, HealthCore Clinic
The cover photo was taken in the Flint Hills north of Strong City by Arthur H. Davis and has been reprinted with his permission.
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Sunflower Foundation > 2018 Annual Report > Features > Teresa Lovelady, MSW, MBA, President & CEO, HealthCore Clinic
Every great story begins with great characters. The story of HealthCore Clinic, a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in Wichita, includes a collection of inspiring characters, visionaries whose leadership and persistence turned a dream of a neighborhood health facility into reality. Today, that dream of a small neighborhood clinic has given way to a state-of-the-art, 40,000-square-foot medical facility with 33 exam rooms, a seven-chair dental area, 11 behavioral health rooms, a full-service on-site pharmacy and a physical fitness center. The recently renovated clinic is on pace to add 75 new staff positions, providing support for an additional 30,000 patient visits which are projected over the next seven years.
The growth and innovation enjoyed by HealthCore Clinic stems from a team of dedicated and professional staff and a CEO known for her forward-thinking and collaborative style of leadership. Under Teresa Lovelady’s direction, HealthCore has remained true to its roots, working closely with neighborhood residents and community organizations to provide and enhance access to new services and programs. This includes implementation of an integrated model of care, a model which provides patients access to a comprehensive suite of services, including primary care, behavioral health, dental, pharmacy, disease management and migrant health. And wraparound supports that include a food pantry, rent and utility assistance, legal aide, transportation and on-site enrollment for many social service programs. This full-service facility meets patients where they are, providing ready access, regardless of one’s ability to pay, to what Teresa calls “health and hope.”
Leading from the Heart: Personal Experiences Show Us What is Possible
Teresa brings a strong academic background to her position: a bachelor’s degree from Chicago State University and masters’ degrees in social work and business administration from Newman University. Professionally, Teresa served as a member of HealthCore’s consumer board and was Vice President of Prevention and Advocacy at the Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas prior to joining the team at HealthCore. While her educational and professional experiences provide her the acumen to lead a large and growing organization, it is her upbringing that provides her the unique insight to truly understand and empathize with the challenges faced by many of HealthCore’s patients.
When Teresa Lovelady arrived at HealthCore for the first time in 2003, it was not as the clinic’s president and CEO, but as a patient. She was a single mother and full-time student who was uninsured and looking for a compassionate place to obtain care for her family, especially her young son, who struggled with asthma. As Teresa worked to complete her master’s degree, HealthCore was there, providing her family supportive, comprehensive care. It was during this time that Teresa’s connection to HealthCore strengthened, through her membership on the clinic’s consumer board, but, more importantly, her love for the clinic’s mission and the staff’s dedication to the neighbors they served.
HealthCore’s unique relationship with the neighborhoods that surround the clinic drew Teresa in, and it is an approach which continues to strike a cord. Teresa grew up in a public housing project on the South Side of Chicago in the 1980s and early 1990s. The neighborhood was infamous for its high rates of poverty, violent crime and drug activity. Addiction and untreated mental health issues were rampant, and both of Teresa’s parents would struggle to remain a part of their home.
By age 15, Teresa was homeless and caring for her two younger brothers. With daily survival the utmost priority, Teresa’s hope for a better life would initially rest with a handful of dedicated teachers. In a neighborhood that seemed to take more than it gave, these teachers were a lifeline. These compassionate individuals saw in Teresa, even then, the same spark and zest for life that her colleagues and partners know so well today. These early mentors pushed Teresa to finish school and exposed her to a life outside of her embattled neighborhood, accompanying her to city museums, libraries and art installations. The support, attention and love shown by these special individuals is something Teresa strives to pass on to others who find themselves in similar circumstances.
Leading with a Vision: Offering Health Care and Hope for Those in Need
It is then no accident that providing support, attention and love remains at the core of HealthCore’s work. While some view HealthCore as simply a place to seek and get health care services, Teresa understands its deeper meaning. She knows for some, HealthCore is a lifeline. It is a rest stop when the road gets too dark, a path forward when all others feel uncertain. Under Teresa’s leadership, HealthCore is a clinic that goes beyond the diagnosis to connect and walk with those who need a guiding hand. No doubt this special touch is just one reason Teresa was named the 2017 Health Care Hero by the Wichita Business Journal. Truly investing in people at multiple levels is an effort that time and again has been shown to produce more than just good health — Teresa Lovelady is living proof.