Dr. Nancy Baker was raised to believe that “when much is given, much is required.” Thus, she is committed to sharing her gifts, including her medical expertise, with others.
In fact, she received the Junior League of Indian River’s 2021 Woman of the Year award, having been nominated in the volunteer category by Theresa Woodson of the American Cancer Society. Baker has served on the ACS board for the past 10 years and has been involved in Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. It is a cause that is dear to her heart, as her father was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003.
Baker is a family medicine physician who grew up in Coral Springs and moved here in 2001 with her husband, who is a Vero Beach native. The following year, she began volunteering with We Care, a nonprofit that, through the generosity of donors and volunteer health care professionals, provides free medical care to uninsured, low-income Indian River County adults.
Baker credits the late Dr. Dennis Saver, her mentor, with inspiring her to become involved with We Care’s mission. One of We Care’s founding physicians, Saver was known for being a part of what he called the “long and honorable tradition” in medicine of “treating all comers and taking care of the poor.”
A 1998 graduate of the University of Miami School of Medicine, Baker completed her residency in family medicine in 2001 at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Jacksonville. “Family medicine is the perfect specialty,” she says, “because it allows physicians to foster relationships with patients throughout their lives.”
Baker’s desire to give back to the community in ways that foster relationships extends beyond the medical office, of course. When her children were younger, she taught children’s church on Sundays and took a week off over the summer to help with Vacation Bible School. Today, as the proud mother of an Eagle Scout, she serves as a merit badge counselor for her son’s Boy Scout troop.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Baker found a way to use social media as a tool to help others, posting frequent updates based on Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital’s informational “huddles” for medical providers. Baker kept a close eye on Indian River County’s COVID-19 statistics and kept up assiduously with emerging information about the virus and associated illness as the pandemic unfolded.
Many people who followed her Facebook page anticipated her posts and shared them with others as a trusted resource during a time of confusion and mixed messages about a new and frightening medical reality. Countless comments expressed the gratitude of those who benefited from Baker’s posts.
“The huddle updates were a response to my family and friends reaching out, afraid and confused,” Baker explains. “They asked for clarity, and I found that they had tons of questions.” Her direct access to the latest medical developments allowed her to “share real-time advice and to reassure and educate people in our local community, many of whom are friends and family.”
As the current medical director of We Care and president of its board, Dr. Baker is proud to carry on Dr. Saver’s legacy and happy to be living up to the axiom she was taught as a child. “Being a We Care volunteer has been extremely rewarding for me,” Baker says. “I have had the chance to make a true difference in my patients’ lives.”