Worel has spent six years with the clinic but she has devoted much of her professional life to public health issues, especially access to and care for the medically underserved. "It gets in your blood," she says. "You have to have a passion for it and it is my passion."
After earning a graduate degree in hospital administration from UCLA, she was recruited for a one-year appointment at the University of Alabama-Birmingham and the Jefferson County Health Department. A Seattle native, Worel had never been to the South and decided to make the temporary move. But she met her future husband in Alabama and the one year stretched into more than 20.
Along the way they moved to the coastal city of Mobile where Worel was instrumental in the creation of Victory Health Partners, which provides primary care services to uninsured adults in the area. The idea for the clinic developed during a fireside chat among a group of medical and dental professionals on a 10-day mission trip to Venezuela. Worel remembers that the group began talking about the medical needs of the poor and uninsured back home in Alabama. "Once we looked into the needs, we realized there was a huge population with little access to care."