NAPLES — The host asked Neighborhood Health Clinic co-founder Nancy Lascheid to read out loud the amount of the check he presented to the not-for-profit at a cocktail party over the weekend.
"Initially I couldn't, to tell you the truth," Lascheid said Monday, recounting the surprise announcement from Saturday night.
It was for $10 million.
The donation, the largest in the 14-year history of the Naples health clinic for the uninsured working poor, will assure its mission will continue in perpetuity, Lascheid said Monday. The clinic didn't release the names of the Naples couple who made the gift.
The gift brings the clinic's William P. Lascheid M.D. Endowment Fund, named for Lascheid's husband and clinic co-founder, to some $12 million, from which up to 5 percent can be withdrawn annually.
Clinic managers don't intend to spend the money for operating expenses, though, relying on private, corporate, foundation, United Way support and its annual Block Party fundraiser to meet daily expenses from paying the electric bill to buying medicine.
Instead, the endowment will be used to pay for unexpected needs, such as a new roof, as they arise, Lascheid said.
"This is a safety net," she said. "We are not going to ride off into the sunset and not need any more funding."
The clinic doesn't receive any federal, state or local government financial aid, and 92 percent of every dollar goes to serving patients. Medical professionals and others volunteer their help at the clinic.
Lascheid said the clinic's $10 million benefactors, who are in the medical manufacturing business, have a hands-on appreciation for the clinic's work and have been backers of the clinic since before it opened its doors in 1999.
The announcement was made to a roomful of clinic supporters and workers, who erupted in applause and tearful hugs, Lascheid said.
"Everybody in that room could put a face on who we were talking about (helping)," she said. "They could see them in their heart."
The gift comes as health-care providers, including the clinic, prepare to fill in gaps they see in implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act, known as Obamacare.
Lascheid said some 29 million Americans still will be unable to buy health insurance under the law and there are questions about how businesses and health-care providers will respond. The demand for health care will only increase, she said.
"It's going to be a very difficult time ahead," Lascheid said.