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October 07, 2007 - Making a Dramatic Difference for Inner City Health

What: Dinner and theatre fundraiser

Where: Littleton Town Hall Arts Center

When: Sunday, October 7 and Wednesday October 10, 2007

Time: 6 p.m.-9:30 p.m.

Ticket Prices: Contribution

Beneficiary: Inner City Health Center - medical and dental care for those in need

Host(s): Paul Dunne, Executive Director of Development

Founders: Dr. Bob and Jan Williams with Dr. Duane Claassen

Catering: Occasions by Sandy

Entertainment: Town Hall Arts Center production of "Nunsense - Amen!"

Music: Jeff Jenkins, jazz pianist

Attendance: 250

Attire: Evening Attire, business formal or cocktail attire

Event Coordinator: Chandra Al-Khafaji

Blacktie Photos by: M. Darcy

 Elbra Wedgeworth with former classmate, Craig Burleson, CEO of the Inner City Health Center.
Elbra Wedgeworth with former classmate, Craig Burleson, CEO of the Inner City Health Center.

Some people complain about healthcare in America, but since 1983, one under-sized clinic in downtown Denver has been doing something about it.

The Inner City Health Center, begun as a volunteer mission by Dr. Bob and Jan Williams with Dr. Duane Claassen, sees over 22,000 patients a year. These are the one-in-five Coloradoans who are working hard, often at several jobs, who make too much to qualify for Medicaide/Medicare, but not enough to afford health insurance.

Without the clinic, most would simply ignore their problems until they had to call 9-1-1. By this strategy, a cold becomes pneumonia and diseases spread. But what if your child had undiagnosed leukemia? What if your father needed insulin shots? As in the movie, Patch Adams, the clinic relies greatly on donated equipment, pharmaceutical samples and is staffed mainly by volunteers who have a commitment to help others, regardless of their ability to pay. Yet they do pay. Half of the center’s budget comes from sliding-scale fees from the patients. The other half comes not from the government, but from donations.

On Sunday, October 7 and Wednesday the 10th, the center asked donors to make a dramatic difference to healthcare at their biggest fund-raiser of the year. The response was immediate. The Littleton Town Hall Theatre was packed to capacity, and it wasn’t merely to see Development Director Paul Dunne in a dress as one of the characters in “Nunsense – Amen!” It’s because ICHC has been filling a desperate gap in the community for nearly 25 years.

Many of the center’s supporters, too, have been there for the long-haul. “You find a charity you can believe in, that’s doing good work, and you stick with them,” said donor Joe Conley. Unlike private practice where patients are allotted seven minutes with the doctor to keep up the bottom line, ICHC doctors get to know their patients by treating the whole family’s healthcare needs, from pediatrics to dentistry to general visits.

Taking it a step further, the clinic is committed to its entire Five Points community by training and employing people from the neighborhood to be part of their 40 paid staff. ICHC could easily be a successful model for the future of healthcare.

Dunne sees his fundraisers as an opportunity to thank people. Before the show, ICHC presented achievement awards to several of its charity stars – Elbra Wedgeworth, District 8 Councilwoman who launched the Denver Health Foundation, and Channel 9 News’ Adam Schrager, who’s proved that media can affect change, both received ICHC’s Celebration of Friendship Award. Mark Harper and Ryan Dickinson from Harper Design and Kaiser Permanente were thanked with a Corporate Partner of the Year Award for their contributions to ICHC. And dentist Lawrence Purcell and internist Ed Ho were given the Volunteer of the Year Award for their compassionate dedication to the center and its mission. These stars are shining for a brighter future. They, and the staff of ICHC are the footlights of hope on the stage of medicine.

You can make a dramatic difference, too. You can get in on the act by calling 303-296-1767 or check out their website on

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