Leo Center gets ‘shot in arm’

Faith-based health clinic to receive $10,000 prize

Jon Stewart, the new chief executive officer for The Leo Center, visits with a patient Monday at the center, which will receive a 0,000 award next week.

The Leo Center is being honored for its work helping people without health insurance to gain the medical screenings, tests and treatments they need.

The center, through its Heartland Medical Clinic, will receive a Passion Award as part of the Thurman Mitchell Servant Leadership Celebration, to be conducted Monday by the Servant Christian Community Foundation.

The award, to be presented during a banquet in Overland Park, goes to a faith-based health service and comes with a $10,000 prize.

“It’s a great shot in the arm, and it’s exciting to be recognized,” said Jon Stewart, the center’s chief executive officer. “I wish there was no need for what we’re doing, and, ideally, we’d work ourselves out of a job, but it’s pretty clear that there’s always going to be a need.”

The award also puts the center in the running for the foundation’s grand prize, which provides $25,000 and will be announced Monday night.

The center and its clinic have about a dozen paid employees, plus a legion of volunteers who keep the Christian outreach and discipleship ministry running.

The clinic is the core service for the operation that also provides a food pantry, financial assistance, pregnancy counseling and biblical counseling and discipleship to people in Lawrence and surrounding communities.

Stewart formally took over as the center’s CEO this month upon the retirement of Joe Reitz, a former Kansas University business professor who worked to instill a businesslike approach to an organization that fills needs unmet by the business sector.

Among the changes under Reitz’s watch: an energy audit that spurred changes – such as turning off some lights and eliminating others – that have cut the center’s monthly power bills from $900 to $600.

Reitz said that the $10,000 prize would go a long way toward providing medical services to many of Douglas County’s 20,000 uninsured residents, especially for an organization on a $350,000 annual budget.

“But I think, more than money, it confirms for us that we’ve been doing the right thing, and that we’re a viable health care clinic, and we’re making an important contribution to the community,” Reitz said.

Paid and lead volunteer staff at The Leo Center

Staffers, paid and volunteer, at The Leo Center include Byron Edmondson, Food Pantry and Benevolence Program director; Christie Glover, certified medical assistant; Deb Horn, Diabetes Program coordinator and Americorps member; Dr. Dennis Sale, physician; and Heidi Waldschmidt, Early Detection Works coordinator and Americorps member.

Also: Jon Stewart, CEO; Karen Stewart, discipleship director; Kim Brown, registered nurse; Marti Butell, lab coordinator; Meghan Connoly, Prescription Assistance Program coordinator; Nancy Reitz, chief financial officer; Joe Reitz, consultant; Odessa Reis, assistant scheduling and administration supervisor; Tracey Bird, certified medical assistant and Medical Clinic supervisor; Kathleen Litton, licensed practical nurse; and Kathy Stegeman, advanced registered nurse practitioner.