A life dedicated to helping others is a family matter for Wendy Bailey. The daughter of a retired nurse, Bailey observed that her mother’s career in health care was purpose driven and human centered. “You can’t just go in and be like a robot—you are working with another life,” said Bailey.
Over Bailey’s 22-year career in health care, she has served as an insurance navigator for Medicaid and Marketplace and a State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) site coordinator. A family tragedy—her brother’s death by suicide—reshaped her professional path.
Bailey decided to deepen her commitment to health care and her neighbors’ well-being. “That was a way for me to help me therapeutically while also giving back to my community,” said Bailey, a lifelong resident of Greene County.
She pursued additional education to become a certified community health worker with a specialty as a chronic care paraprofessional. In this role at Greene County Health, Bailey helps residents access physical and mental healthcare services as well as food, clothing, shelter, nutrition resources, and wellness programs. She is also a trained suicide interventionalist. Ensuring that Greene County residents have access to resources that address their basic needs is paramount for Bailey.
“This means everything because I am a mom, first and foremost, before work. I can’t imagine my kids having no food or clothing or heat or a home. It’s been very eye-opening, what we have been able to do,” said Bailey.
In collaboration with the Center for Rural Engagement and two initiatives supported by the Indiana Department of Health’s I-HOPE initiative, Bailey has connected residents to a food-as-medicine program which she helped to deliver and implemented a smoking cessation intervention at her clinic.
Bailey said a recent patient dropped from two packs of cigarettes a day to a pack and a half, has increased his physical activity, and made changes to his diet shortly after enrolling in the smoking cessation program. “I was super excited,” Bailey said. “He said, ‘For once, somebody believes in me more than myself.’ And I had to think about that for a minute. That’s how things work with all of us.”