Areas of Impact

Our Patients Thank You!

A gift to the Cherry Health Foundation allows someone in our community to receive needed health care services. Many of our patients have little or no other access to health care, and would not be able to receive services without your support! Cherry Health equips our patients to live healthy lives. Below are stories from our patients, which showcase how your generous gifts help to improve lives every single day.

This Month

Meet Jennifer.

Smiles are contagious. Even if you’re having discomfort, when you see a smile that comes from the heart, you can’t help but join in. For one of Cherry Health’s Barry Community Health Center patients, Jennifer Mello, this is literally true.

Terrified by dentists, Jennifer hadn’t received dental care in 35 years. Then she couldn’t find a dentist that would accept her insurance, and she was embarrassed to ask for help. She came to Dr. Elise Boncher’s Cherry Health team for emergency treatment of a debilitating toothache. She had heard that the care there was different – that they treated patients as “family.”

Cherry Health lived up to the rumor.

Through major support from Cherry Health Foundation donors, the Barry Community Health Center has increased capacity to treat emergency dental patients like Jennifer. Dr. Boncher’s team could treat her immediately. Her teeth had been badly damaged from chemotherapy and radiation, but her new friends at Barry Community Health Center gave her time and individual care, focusing on gentle treatment.

Ultimately, Jennifer was supplied with a new smile through a full set of dentures. She has her confidence back, and her health is improving. Her physician even noticed an improvement in her blood test!

Jennifer’s contagious smile is a testimony to the life-changing services provided by Cherry Health. Jennifer’s husband is now getting care for his teeth and her children have been inspired to take better care for their oral health, as well. She’s telling friends and neighbors about Cherry Health, encouraging others to check-in because, thanks to donor support, access to quality treatment is no longer a barrier in Barry County.

You Make an Impact

Cherry Health and Ashley Westcott were God sent! When I came to the Westside Health Center, I was dying (seriously). I was hopeless (suffering from a major depression disorder). I did not have medical insurance, and no doctors’ offices or clinic wanted to take me in… But Cherry Health did.

Ashley Westcott is a stellar provider. She is very caring and kindhearted and she always does her best for her patients, myself included. And she knows her stuff. She not only consistently monitored my vitals, and prescribed me the medications that worked best for me, she also made sure that I sought other specific/ specialized care that I needed. For instance she referred me to the counseling services provided through Cherry Health, as well as the right specialists/surgeons. And she always listened even though she was not my therapist.

I initially came back to Cherry Health because the doctor’s office I was using previously always did things half way. Sometimes even the basic things were missing – like a good working thermometer, or even a common sphygmomanometer; and go figure, I was a patient with very elevated blood pressure. Sometimes I did not even feel welcomed at the office. Anyway, I quickly came back to Cherry Health, and I will stay. At Cherry Health, even the people at the front desk are kind! Even at 7 a.m.!

Today, I am doing over 60% better than I was. No amount of money can express my gratitude for Cherry Health and Ashley Westcott. You are saving me and I shall forever be in your debts.

Integrated Care

Henry came to the Durham Clinic at Cherry Health’s Heart of the City Health Center with an extensive history including hospitalizations and involvement in the legal system, as well as a severe drinking problem. He was experiencing black outs and falling down due to intoxication. Henry was not taking care of his health. Among other things he was not eating properly, he was smoking cigarettes and experiencing excessive drooling because of dental problems.

Furthermore, he did not have a stable place to live and was asked to leave several places due to his alcohol use. Since Henry started coming to the Durham Clinic and working with his health care team, he has been sober for almost a year and a half. The integrated care at the Durham Clinic addresses all aspects of an individual’s health including medical, dental, vision and behavioral health.

Henry’s mental health status has remained stable. With the help of his guardian he established a permanent residence in an Adult Foster Care home, where his medications are monitored and he is provided with consistent meals. Henry says, “This home feels like a family to me, as I do not have a lot of close family.”

Henry has been following through with many of his health care team’s’ recommendations such as getting immunizations that were out of date. He has started working out two times per day on an exercise bike at home, and when the weather is nice, he walks outside. He has worked with Cherry Health’s vision services (Grand Rapids Lions Club Vision Clinic) as well as Cherry Health’s dental office where his dental needs are taken care of, including a new set of dentures.

Most recently, Henry has decided he would like to quit smoking and is working towards this with the assistance of his Durham Clinic health care team. Henry is successfully managing his health and continually taking new steps to improve his life and well-being.


“It took me a long time to come to Cherry Health because I was not aware of the change in health care laws, and even with the sliding fee scale, I didn’t think I could afford to go to the doctor. However, my health problem got bad enough that I knew I needed to do something.

I came to Cherry Health to be seen for one health problem, but after meeting with different staff in adult medicine, I was able to get help for a handful of issues I had been putting off. When I started at Cherry Health I was 399lbs, I experienced incontinence, depression, high stress levels, high blood pressure and I knew I needed a hip replacement. Honestly, I had given up on life and did not put forth effort to better myself.

Along with my normal doctor appointments which have tremendously helped me improve my health, I meet weekly with Chelsea, a social work intern. We worked through my depression issues and made game plans of how to be healthier. I now go for short walks, take proper medications and eat better. My blood pressure has gone down, my stress tests have improved and I have lost 42lbs. Once I get down to 300 I can get my hip replaced! I am also working on getting certified to work full-time for a company who employs people with disabilities.

Transportation is an issue for me, so being able to go to one place and have all these medical needs met is really important to me. I’m thankful to Cherry Health. They helped me to get back in the game. When I came to Cherry Health I was ready to get help. I wanted the help!”

-Roger K. – Adult Internal Medicine patient


Recently, a patient came in with her 18 month old child for a routine appointment. After the comprehensive eye exam was completed Cherry Health knew the child desperately needed glasses. The patient had a +7 in one eye and +8.5 in the other eye. When the patient’s parent processed the information, she started crying and said it explained why he didn't walk right away and fell all the time.

A few weeks later the mom came back to pick the glasses up. When the optometrist put the glasses on the child, he just sat there looking all around! His parent called his name to get his attention and he just sat there looking at her and smiled, as if it was the first time he could fully see his mom’s face! The patient was so happy with the time and attention her child received from their very first visit.


About a month ago when I first met my patient, he was shaking and extremely on edge. He told me that he was sleeping under a bridge and trying desperately to get clean again after a relapse. He had applied for Medicaid in another county, but something went wrong with that application and he lost coverage. He was back in Grand Rapids, desperate for help. He wanted to start counseling but knew he likely wouldn’t be able to afford our services or medications until he had coverage.

We completed a Medicaid application and he was approved on the spot. Together, we put together a plan: check to make sure his approval showed up in CHAMPS (Community Health Automated Medicaid Processing System), pick a plan to ensure his Medicaid would be in effect, go to network180 for information of all services he qualified for, and become a new patient for medical and counseling services at Cherry Health.

Today, when I ran into him, I didn’t even recognize him. His life has improved quite a bit in a short time. He was at Cherry Health for a counseling appointment and with excitement he told me he had 30 days sober!


Cherry Health’s School Linked Dental program (which travels to more than 72 schools throughout West Michigan) has been operating for over 20 years. Many students have benefited from the oral health education, cleanings, sealants, exams and follow-up restorative care in this program year after year. Students are seen starting in Head Start then throughout their elementary school experience. These years make a huge difference!

In 2004-2005, 82% of the students who were screened in the program needed to be referred for restorative dental care. In 2013-14, only 62% needed to be referred. And so far this year only 52% need to be referred. That is a 30% reduction in tooth decay!

This means as many as 17,700 teeth weren’t decayed, in part, to our intervention. Over 130 million dollars of restorative care was avoided due to good prevention. Those are just the numbers. But think of the 4,200 students who don't have tooth decay this year…they have a brighter, more self confident smile and didn’t have to miss school because of tooth pain!


Thank you for considering making a donation to the Cherry Health Foundation. Please note, if donations to the Cherry Health Foundation exceed the amount of funds needed to support a particular program, we may utilize the extra funds to support other Cherry Health programs, as needed.

Make an Impact