LifeCare Alliance is a nonprofit human services organization that provides a comprehensive array of health and nutrition services to residents of central Ohio. LifeCare Alliance’s mission is to lead our community in identifying and delivering health and nutrition services to meet the community’s changing needs. Founded in 1898 as the Instructive District Nursing Association (IDNA), LifeCare Alliance was Columbus’ first in-home health care agency and Ohio’s first Visiting Nurse Association, services we proudly continue today.
Through the vision of Catherine Nelson Black, wife of Samuel Black, a judge and mayor of the City of Columbus, the IDNA became Ohio’s first home healthcare program. The IDNA was organized in 1898 to bring medical care and health education to the homes of the sick poor and immigrant populations – those with high infant mortality rates. Mrs. Black noted that she wanted to establish an organization that would “take care of the people who nobody else paid any attention to”. We still take care of those individuals today.
Nursing clinics, now known Wellness Centers, were established in 1969 in senior housing areas. Catherine Nelson Black’s vision expanded in 1973, when the organization, then named the Community Health and Nursing Service (CHNS), started a food production kitchen at Bradford Commons at The Ohio State University. This program, the Nutrition Involving Community Elderly (NICE), was the second such food delivery program in the United States, and the start of our current Meals-on-Wheels and dining center programs. Two years later, in 1975, the homemaker program, now known as Help-at-Home, was established.
In 1987, the agency name was again changed to LifeCare Alliance to demonstrate the agency’s expertise in care for people through old age by an alliance of health care professionals, volunteers, and programs designed to promote independent living.
LifeCare Alliance continues to grow and change to serve the community through expanding nursing clinics, the introduction of ethnic, frozen, and vegetarian meals, and congregate sites designed to attract our growing and diverse senior populations. Additionally, LifeCare Alliance began delivery of after-school and daycare meals in 2001 for children age three through twelve. In 2002, LifeCare Alliance opened a health care clinic to serve the area’s Hispanic population and began The Cardinal Health Visiting Pharmacist Program to provide medication assistance to homebound seniors.
In 2003, LifeCare Alliance launched two social entrepreneurial programs; The Catch the Wellness Spirit Corporate Wellness Program and LA Catering. Our Corporate Wellness Program attacks the rising cost of health insurance by placing a LifeCare Alliance dietitian and nurse at a corporate location to work with the firm’s employees and reduce large claims. This is also a mission-driven program, designed to reduce the number of seniors requiring our servicing in years to come. Corporate Wellness clients include Grange Insurance, Porter Wright Morris and Arthur, and Highlights for Children.
LA Catering, another social entrepreneurship effort of LifeCare Alliance, provides catering services to hundreds of Central Ohio clients while allowing our Meals-on-Wheels production staff a creative way to present their considerable talents. The profits from LA Catering allow LifeCare Alliance to serve additional clients who do not have a specific funding source.
In June 2003, LifeCare Alliance was asked to assume responsibility for the Madison County Meals-on-Wheels program. LifeCare Alliance saved this critical service for the citizens of Madison County by reducing costs through delivery and production efficiencies.
LifeCare Alliance’s family expanded in 2004 when Project OpenHand Columbus merged into LifeCare Alliance. Project OpenHand Columbus was originally established in 1994 to provide home delivered meals, a food pantry, and nutritional services to men, women, and children living with HIV and AIDS. Since the merger, we have expanded services to Project OpenHand Columbus clients while reducing program costs.
In April, 2005, The Columbus Cancer Clinic voted to merge into LifeCare Alliance. Coincidentally, LifeCare Alliance and the Columbus Cancer Clinic have the same founder-Catherine Nelson Black. Founded in 1921, The Columbus Cancer Clinic was the first cancer clinic in the United States to offer free cancer detection, diagnostic, and treatment services. Additionally, the Columbus Cancer Clinic strives to educate the community about cancer prevention and the benefits of early detection by offering affordable, accessible screening examinations, mammograms, and providing home care support services, such as providing wigs, medications, a food pantry, and rent and utility payment support. Now known as the LifeCare Alliance Cancer Clinic, the clinis has dramatically increased the number of Home Care Support clients served while operating costs have been reduced by 43% by centralizing administrative, human resources, marketing, accounting, and other functions.
LifeCare Alliance is one of the five largest Meals-on-Wheels providers in the United States, producing more than 6,000 meals for people facing challenges that stem from medical conditions, disabilities, and aging in place, and 2,000 Meals-for-Kids each day. However, our production kitchen was originally built in 1990 to produce a maximum of 2,000 meals per day.
In 2011, LifeCare Alliance announced the newest member to our family of programs, IMPACT Safety. Established in 1993, IMPACT Safety has been serving the community by developing and teaching interpersonal safety skills to a wide range of populations. IMPACT’s expertise in addressing issues for high-risk professionals, workplace, youth, women, those with disabilities and the elderly is recognized internationally as well as locally.
In 2017, LifeCare Alliance merged with the Central Ohio Diabetes Association to help expand the reach of both agencies’ services at a lower cost. In 2020, LifeCare Alliance completed a similar merger with Diabetes Dayton.
Today, LifeCare Alliance maintains a staff of over 102 full-time employees and 104 part-time employees. LifeCare Alliance also remains the leader in the state of Ohio with nearly 10,000 active volunteers who contribute over 130,000 volunteer hours annually. LifeCare Alliance has emerged as a national leader in merger collaborations, having successfully completed five in the last ten years with Meals-on-Wheels of Madison County, Project OpenHand-Columbus, the Columbus Cancer Clinic, IMPACT Safety and Marion County Meals-on-Wheels. These mergers have eliminated or reduced costs and the redundancy of services in central Ohio, resulting in more funds for programs, enhanced services and an increase in client access to basic needs.
The bottom line is that according to the latest AARP statistics, LifeCare Alliance saves Ohio taxpayers over $62,000 per year for each client we assist in remaining independent and in their own homes, where they want to be.
Finally, LifeCare Alliance continues to strive to serve all those in need and has zero people on waiting lists, and a critically needed meal can be delivered tomorrow. We strive to continue to accept all in need……everyday.