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Share the Health founders share Jefferson Award

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MADISON (WKOW) --  Our Jefferson Award Winners for August are making sure all women in their community get the healthcare they need.

UW resident, Dr. Katherine O'Rourke may just be starting her career but she is already making a huge impact.

After treating a patient with cervical cancer, she knew there was more she could do to help women.
"As I was caring for her, I was just thinking, 'Cervical cancer is preventable.' But she didn't have insurance for 20 years and didn't have a chance to see the doctor and get the care that she needed."

So Dr. O'Rourke approached her mentor, Dr. Mary Landry, with an idea for a free gynecology clinic.

Dr. Landry has spent her entire medical career in Madison.

"There was no place that women could go in Madison who have no health insurance who have abnormal screening tests," says Dr. Landry.

The two turned to the medical community for support, raised money through private donors, co-founded a non-profit and in January, launched Share the Health Free Gynecology Clinic.
Dr. O'Rourke says, "We have physician volunteers from across Madison, Madison Women's Health has donated their clinic space."

"Every OBGYN in town has volunteered to offer their services," says Dr. Landry. "If someone is diagnosed with cancer, UW Hospital has agreed they will then care for those patients free of charge."

Students are also involved, from the medical, business and law schools.

Already, the clinic is saving lives.

"The first night we diagnosed cancer," says Dr. O'Rourke. "We were able to get her over to UW's Gynecology Department and she was treated for her cancer and she's off living her life."

Eight patients a month are referred for this specialized care they can't find anywhere else.

"It's a dream. I can't believe this is really happening," says Dr. O'Rourke.

"There are people who change the world every day. The change starts with you. So be the change," says Dr. Landry.

Being the change is what makes these doctors our Jefferson Award Winners for August.

For more information on Share the Health click here.

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