Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Maxim 85

During a recent trip to Wichita, Kansas, I was reminded of maxim 85, “Advance good works until they are almost finished; and then, whenever possible, let them be completed by someone else who will receive the honor.” 

To meet the unmet health care needs of the uninsured and under-insured in Wichita, four years ago the Mother Mary Anne Health Clinic, named after a long time St. Joseph Hospital administrator and leaders of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Wichita, opened to provide after-hours patient care on a walk-in basis at an affordable rate, often free.  After providing over 20,000 patient visits, the Sisters and the staff realized that the needs of their “dear neighbor” had changed. 
Mother Mary Ann Health Clinic

Translator Virdiana Villalobos and a nurse prepare for patients

Patients who had their urgent health care need attended to, but found that they were unable to locate ongoing medical care that they could afford, began returning to the Mother Mary Anne Clinic.   The Clinic staff knew that although they could provide the care, it would be urgent care.  It would not be the kind of care that a patient gets when they have a primary doctor who knows them and a medical home that emphasizes prevention and follow-up treatment of chronic conditions.

Out of this need for increased access to ongoing care for the poor, a new and strong relationship was formed with the GraceMed Health Clinic, a federally qualified health center (FQHC).  GraceMed currently provides medical home services, however not in a location that is convenient for the Hilltop neighborhood, a poor section of Wichita that the Mother Mary Anne Health Clinic serves. The plan is for GraceMed  to take over the Mother Mary Anne Clinic.  It will be able to use the current building to provide regular medical home services, including dental care, a service that the poor have great difficulty accessing, as well as the after-hours walk-in clinic dedicated to serving patients who are uninsured and underinsured.  This will all be accomplished in a newly remodeled 4,100 square-foot space with nine exam rooms. 

For those of you that may not have had experience with FQHCs, let me give my personal testimonial to the quality of care they provide.  When I was the Assistant Administrator for Medicaid in Hawaii, the position I held immediately prior to becoming the Federation Executive Director, I received my care at one of these centers.  I felt it was important to experience what my clients were experiencing.  FQHCs are required to meet strict federal guidelines, including time frames for granting an appointment.  I always got wonderful care when I needed it.  Regular recommendations and reminders for preventative care, getting needed blood tests, and guidance on how to obtain the lowest cost, yet effective medications were always offered.   From my first-hand experience of having a medical home and from the experience of my neighbors and clients in Hawaii, I fully appreciate the wonderful expansion of service that this new relationship of the Via Christi Mother Mary Anne Health Center and GraceMed offers to one of the most impoverished areas in Wichita.

This good work was advanced by our sisters but will be continued on by these new colleagues, with a little help from the Sister’s Foundation.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Patty and Griselda Take Manhattan

The Muppets have nothing on Sr. Griselda Martinez Morales and me.  While I was in New York working on business for the Sisters of St. Joseph Non-Governmental Organization at the United Nations with Griselda, our representative there, we also did a few Christmas tourist things in Manhattan.

We visited the Christmas store windows, saw the tree at Rockefeller Plaza and visited Grand Central Station.
The windows at Macy's were the best I have ever seen

Sr. Griselda at Rockefeller Plaza

The skaters at Rockefeller Plaza

Me at Times Square
I am getting better at crossing the streets in Manhattan.  Although they have walk and don’t walk signs all over, in New York that doesn’t really mean that you should or should not cross.  Ideally, you cross with a pack of people when it is safe but mostly you just cross when there is not a car or bicycle coming right at you.  This usually has nothing to do with the traffic signals.  After following Griselda around, I had to go to a meeting on my own several blocks from her office.  I was so very proud as I scouted the scene and took my life in my hands as I crossed the street on my own.
Griselda is quite involved at St. Patrick’s parish which is a predominantly Latin American parish.  I participated with her in a rosary at a parishioner’s home.  For 45 days, leading up to the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the parishioners have been hosting a rosary for the parish in their home.  The one I went to had about 50 people and included a procession by the children, a song with every decade of the rosary and food afterwards.  It is quite a commitment and community building process on the part of the parishioners.
I met with our Sisters at the UN, Griselda, Marianne Sennick and Susan Wilcox to do some future planning also.    We put the finishing touches on a newsletter about our work at the UN which will be sent off for translation and available on the Federation website soon.
Susan, Marianne and Griselda, Sisters of St Joseph at the UN

Griseda at Grand Central Station