Arising from epidemic, economic and political despair, something to feel good about is brewing in the renovated historic two-story building gracing Milwaukee’s Harambee neighborhood. Well beyond the waft of fair trade coffee beans roasted while you wait, is a melting pot of integrated healthcare services and a social hub destined to uplift the community body, mind and soul. Bader Philanthropies, Inc., one of Southeastern Wisconsin’s top 10 foundations headquartered across the street, is the cornerstone.
This week Sam’s Place, the new jazz cafe on the lower level of 3338 N. Dr. MLK Jr. Drive opened its doors. It’s a space where patients of Shalem Healing, occupying the second floor, can have an acupuncture session followed by a Sam’s Wrap at the juice bar downstairs to sustain the healing vibe. According to Bader’s vice president of engagement, Frank Cumberbatch, area residents have willed it into being.
“Just about everything we do comes from the people. We initiated a monthly networking event called ‘Chat with Bader’ and held it in there,” he says pointing out the window to what was once a bank. “It was dusty and grimy, but the lights and the heat worked. So we put out some chairs and I would listen.”
Having rented downtown and then in the Third Ward, Bader Philanthropies moved their offices to 3300 N. Dr. MLK Jr. Drive in July of 2018 after a 19 month construction rehab. It was the same neighborhood where Dr. Alfred Bader started Aldrich Chemicals in 1951 out of a rented garage. “It felt quite like going home,” says Cumberbatch. “The 1925 building was all boarded up with pink plywood when we acquired it, but it offered freeway access and parking. We thought, this is the one! Let’s report to work with the people we serve.”
Shalem Healing, a benefactee and an outreach arm of the foundation, is an atypical alternative clinic that’s been helping the under-served and uninsured since its establishment on Locust and Fratney in 2003. Founder Dr. Robert Fox (Dr. Raphael Moshe Fox), a nurse practitioner specializing in functional, regenerative, stem cell and Chinese medicine, maintains a holistic approach that bridges and goes deeper than conventional healthcare. Additionally, his biomedical engineering background incites him to relentlessly seek the underlying cause of a given diagnosis in order to treat it.
“From my perspective, it’s not enough to focus on a patient’s symptoms that point to a disease that can be billed for.” Fox says. “There are numerous tests innovated by modern laboratory science that are not necessarily covered by insurance or taught in school. But they can be invaluable in identifying the pathogens triggering the disease.”
Not for Profit
While Shalem’s non-profit status became official in 2015, Fox is not opposed to non-profit healthcare organizations financially gaining from the industry. However, he stipulates, “In this day and age, that multi-million dollar hospital systems classified as nonprofits don’t have satellite clinics in every single need based community doesn’t make sense to me. Clearly their motivation is profit and not healthcare driven.”
From the art of healing to the frontier of medical activism, Fox has written to Senate and Congress members declaring that pharmaceutical companies shouldn’t be granted a patent on a drug where public funds are taken for its development. “It should be public property,” he lamented. “The largest political donations are from the pharmaceutical lobby which donates tens of millions in every presidential cycle, half given to Democrats and half to Republicans. They don’t care who gets in, it’s just a matter of securing their interests. The second largest sector is the health insurance lobby. To me, this is a conflict of interest.”
To fill in the gaps of limited pharmacology, Fox created Refua Medicinals, a blend of traditional Chinese formulas enhanced by current nutritional biology. Crafted onsite, the teas, extracts and CBD oils address a range of issues including anti-viral immunity, diabetes, cancer support, chronic fatigue, respiratory, skin, sleep and stress disorders. These remedies, Fox asserts, have made significant improvements in his patients’ health.
“For example, after a consultation with a young woman having trouble getting pregnant, I put her on our fertility support tea.” Fox says. “Soon afterward she was able to conceive and carry. I wouldn’t blame it on the tea, but she had triplets.”
Based on his 20-year practice of utilizing and enhancing the formulations, Refua is “developing into a true nutraceutical company,” expanding into capsules, tablets and a chewable kid’s line coming soon. Fox is meticulous about purity and efficacy in his all natural, Kosher, filler free, GMO free and gluten free products.
Since settling into the clinic’s new location in September, Fox was able to increase his COVID testing to 200-300 people at a time by setting up shop in Bader’s parking lot. From their open flow suite of 11 treatment rooms, they’ve doubled their patient capacity, plus the additional community space provides for classes and education, a major piece of his therapeutic model. For Cumberbatch, Bader’s continued patronage of Fox is a testament to his character, rarely found in his field.
“I don’t know the last time you went to a doctor who sits for 45 minutes and talks to you about what’s going on with you,” Cumberbatch says. “That’s how Dr. Fox is and it’s a wonderful thing. It’s how medicine ought to be.”
Dedicated to improving lives and meeting the critical needs of urban communities, Bader has invested over a million dollars into COVID relief, first responders and other essential services.
“I think that COVID 19 has peeled the Band-Aid clean off the wounds of our neighborhoods, from the lack of bandwidth in poor households needed for online classes to the social determinants of heightened susceptibility and fatality,” says Cumberbatch. “It’s amazing how many people died during the pandemic not due to COVID but to diabetes, heart disease and asthma. We also need to get our arms around the food and housing disparity. If people don’t have a place to live and healthy food to eat, there is no way to tell them to read to their children, make sure they do their homework or go buy a pair of running shoes and exercise. The rest of it is moot!”
Formerly named the Helen Bader Foundation, Bader Philanthropies has been rooted in the health business from early on. “Helen Bader was a social worker who made great strides with Alzheimer’s,” Cumberbatch says “The city, the country, the entire planet is getting older and so our support there will continue.”
When asked how their mission of today captures her legacy, Cumberbatch rises from his chair, “Be right back.” He returned to hand over a hardcover book entitled An Independent Spirit: The Quiet, Generous Life of Helen Daniels Bader and one could almost sense the serenely tenacious woman of its pages standing behind him, nodding.