After the Lord called me to sell my fitness business 7 years ago, to go “all in” with healthcare, I’ve seen just how broken our healthcare system really is. Living here in Nashville, where tremendous wealth has been created on the management side of healthcare, I saw a disconnect on the perspectives of so many in these “glass towers”, versus the perspectives of our “working poor” out in the community.
I traveled around the country paying close attention to the rural communities in Appalachia, where I grew up. I saw families working extremely hard, with health insurance deductibles so high that if they needed care, they are put in a hopeless financial situation. Many times, these families would rely on predatory “pay-day” lending to borrow enough money to pay for healthcare costs, that they didn’t even know what the cost was, until after the fact. I also have seen how so many families delay much needed care, because they are afraid of what it will cost, turning small health problems, often times into much larger ones, and sometimes it is too late.
It all changed for me when my mother who went to church every week along with weekly bible studies, was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure in March of 2018. She did not know she had this disease and just coughed regularly not paying it much attention. My mother went to heaven on September 10, 2018 as her diagnosis of CHF was diagnosed too late, and the Lord called her Home.
The Vision the Lord gave me was how our Faith communities and churches could play a stronger active role in improving healthcare in our country. Our Faith communities could become local “points-of-care” and encourage health screenings and provide the “boots on the ground” needed, to get back to a primary care model where people who are sick visit their local doctor, versus an overcrowded Emergency Room.
Another issue that really bothered me was the amount of money being made by “nonprofit” healthcare systems who are called to serve, and yet wonder why the community doesn’t respect them when management are making millions, and the working poor in the community have no idea how much their care will even cost? Also, why do health insurance companies who at their very core pay our medical bills, with our own money, are profiting more now than ever before?
Again, the working poor sees these things happening and begin to ask why do I work to make $40K for my family, when I can go on Medicaid and other government run programs and often receive better care?
I’m a capitalist and an entrepreneur who sees nothing wrong with “nonprofit health systems” and health insurance companies earning money at all. But the problem is how much is enough? When a large health insurance company who just made a billion dollars stands in front of a TV camera and proudly hands a way a million-dollar check, they are missing the optics of what the community really sees.
If people knew how much their medical bills would be beforehand and had proactive ways to pay it instead of harassing collection agents after the fact and made the cost more affordable for everyone then the market would begin to improve.
The only way this happens is putting our Faith and trust in the Lord to turn this around and get back to making healthcare local and building local trust, versus squeezing out ridiculously high profits from the very people who make those profits possible.
In March of 2019 God led us to Bluefield, West Virginia where we met with local government officials, healthcare officials, community leadership, a local Pastor and a foundation. The amazing part about this is that Bluefield is where my Grandfather lived and was a well-known College and High School football coach, professor and Director of the City Parks and Recreation. Lotito Park in Bluefield is named after my Grandfather (Tony Lotito). The local Pastor provided wisdom and inspiration to establish our rural health headquarters in Bluefield in order to bring hope and restore the health of the region.
We are prayerfully seeking funding/donations to provide health screening and population health/interoperability services, to underserved communities. This is accomplished through local points of care including churches, community centers, schools, volunteer fire departments and local wellness coaches to prevent unnecessary deaths like my mother and to improve health care outcomes.