Richard Wilken was 23 years old when he was stunned by a testicular cancer diagnosis. It was the beginning of a series of health problems, including Crohn's disease and chronic kidney disease, he would be forced to deal with throughout his life. As a successful oil executive, Richard moved frequently, receiving ongoing treatment from at least five different hospital systems. When he moved to Houston, the care he received from CHI St. Luke's Health stood out. "The thing we noticed immediately about St. Luke's is the focus on the patient," Richard said. "There is a very welcoming part-of-our-family aspect to CHI St. Luke's that I think is unique among the hospitals I've spent time in."
Inspired by our commitment to the patient, Richard was determined to find a way to help others access the same quality of care that changed his life. With a generous gift to the St. Luke's Foundation, Richard and his family established the Guardian Angel Fund. The fund provides qualifying, low-income patients with financial assistance to access much-needed care they might otherwise have to forego. At CHI St. Luke's Health, charity care was always a priority. Now, the Guardian Angel Fund acts as a safety net for patients unable to obtain assistance through other means. "We really feel for the people where it's a struggle for them to get to their doctor's appointments, it's a struggle for them to pay for their medicine, and it shouldn't be," Richard said. "People shouldn't have that burden on top of being sick."
His wife Tracy said the couple feels strongly about impressing upon their six children and five grandchildren the importance of giving back. She said they want to pass on a legacy of giving. "We want our money to go to actually helping people," she said. "We've been very impressed with CHI St. Luke's in that regard." The St. Luke's Foundation is grateful to the Wilkens and other contributors to the Guardian Angel Fund. Growing the fund is a major priority for the Foundation; now and moving forward, we commit to helping ensure that more patients can be helped by our angel donors.