Medical outreach off to a healthy start | News, Sports, Jobs
STEUBENVLLE — A medical outreach long on the minds, hearts and prayer lists of two leaders of local charities is off to a healthy start.
The Homeless Shelter Outreach Program launched by the Ohio Valley Health Center at 423 South St., Steubenville, is in partnership with Urban Mission Ministries, borne out of conversations and concerns between its two leaders — Ann Quillen, the center’s executive director, and the Rev. Ashley Steele, the mission’s executive director.
On Monday mornings, a team of volunteer health care providers visit the mission’s men’s shelter at 142 N. Sixth St., Steubenville, a location that in previous years was known as the City Rescue Mission before it was turned over to Urban Mission. The weekly presence there has involved the setup of a small clinic area where shelter guests can get a medical exam, a personalized treatment plan and arrangements for medications if need be.
Quillen explained that’s been happening since September — an outreach that expands in May when a weekly presence unfolds on Thursdays at Martha Manor at 408 N. Fifth St., Steubenville. That’s the mission’s recently acquired emergency and transitional shelter for women with its accommodations reconfigured slightly to provide a dedicated room for medical attention.
“Pastor Ashley and I have been praying together on a shared vision so this is actually a concrete step toward really unifying or combining our services,” Quillen explained recently. “Not only do we go down there, but they (the mission) provide us with food boxes for our diabetic patients and hypertension patients, because one of the things in our Free to be Healthy Program, our diabetic and hypertension patients can get a free box of food once a month. That’s very healthy, low-sugar, low-fat food that we can give to our patients,” Quillen said in citing an example of how the two mission organizations are collaborating.
The 10 to 20 boxes of food constitute “a pretty big thing” for those who need it, according to Quillen, not to mention it’s part of a broader picture — a continued move toward puzzle pieces snapping in place and efforts combining.
A registered nurse for many years, Quillen has a presence at the men’s shelter on Mondays from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., seeing anywhere from two to six patients.
“The folks down at the homeless shelter, they’ve got some really serious health issues that have been neglected,” she said. “Their health issues have not been a priority, so bringing the care directly to them certainly is helpful and life-changing, life-saving.
“It’s an outreach we’ve wanted to do for a long time.”
“The health center is something special, and I’m thankful for their work,” Steele commented. “The partnership we share is so meaningful. Ann and her team are a true gift both to me and to so many others whose lives they touch,” Steele added.
In addition to a medical exam and a personalized treatment plan, patients are provided medications from the health center’s in-house dispensary as well as medications filled and delivered from A&B Pharmacy, according to Quillen.
“One of the working relationships that has been added is A&B Pharmacy,” Quillen explained. “We send our scripts from the homeless shelter to them, and they actually deliver all the medications down to the homeless shelter as well as a community service.”
Dr. Kevin Harris, certified nurse practitioner, and registered nurse Maria Giulani, both from the nursing department at Franciscan University of Steubenville, are the regular volunteers at the men’s shelter.
“We’re going to add to that (presence at the men’s shelter) by going to Martha Manor with May 19 the opening day,” Quillen said of the outreach program’s expansion.
A room at Martha Manor has been transformed into a designated medical room, which visitors to the facility’s grand reopening in March were able to see and learn about from Quillen.
“We’re really excited about that,” she said. “We’ll do the same practice, seeing patients in the morning and the patients can come back here, too,” she added, referring to the health center.
“Just because we see them at the homeless shelter, they’re always patients at the health center,” Quillen said. “We encourage them to get regular appointments and come and see us even if they move away. They can still come to the health center and still be a patient. We want them to understand just because we see them there doesn’t mean it’s the only place we can see them,” she said, referring to both shelter locations.
The value in the outreach locations is not only getting medical attention there, but making shelter residents aware the center is a place of hope and help that they can turn to in time of need, Quillen emphasized.
“If they’re not aware there is a health center, they discover that when they transition on from the shelters,” Quillen said.
“At Martha Manor we will have a one-day-a-week presence on Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.,” Quillen said. “Dr. Denise Lucas will be seeing patients there,” she added, noting other providers may be there also. “Diann Schmitt also is a nurse practitioner, and I believe she will take some time and do some visits down there, too.”
That there is a designated room at Martha Manor with an exam table is a bonus, according to Quillen, who emphasized that medications aren’t at either shelter location. “We’re not setting up a dispensary or anything like that,” she said.
Since 2006, the health center has provided compassionate and comprehensive care to hundreds of local individuals and families who are uninsured or underinsured, according to Quillen, as the state-of-the-art center helps its patients create a strong health care “safety net team” by providing medical services and referrals that fill important gaps in care.
“From general medical, dental and vision care to behavioral health, diabetes care and an on-site pharmacy and lab, patients receive comprehensive care regardless of their ability to pay,” Quillen noted.
Urban Mission, meanwhile, offers a wide range of programs and services focusing on providing food, clothing, emergency shelter and life skill and job training to those in need in the Ohio Valley.
Each year, the Urban Mission distributes more than 1 million pounds of food to families in need. It also operates the “Jobs For Life” program that equips participants with the tools to secure gainful employment.
The mission additionally provides shelter and assistance for the homeless population with facilities that can accommodate men, women and children, according to Steele.
How to develop a stronger working relationship between the two organizations has been a longtime conversation topic for Quillen and Steele, both of whom said they believed that the local community could benefit greatly by combining efforts and possibly services.
The needs of the homeless was one area in particular that made the partnership all the more crucial.
“One thing I always took away from my conversations with Rev. Ashley,” commented Quillen,”was that when someone arrives at a homeless shelter, the Urban Mission would like for them to have access to medical care as soon as possible. And that wasn’t happening.
“So our volunteer nurse practitioner, Dr. Kevin Harris, CNP, and I began going to the shelter every Monday morning to triage and treat clients who were in need of care,” Quillen noted.
“When we arrive at the shelter, we do a check-in with the residents to see who is in need of medical care. Paperwork is completed, a basic exam is performed and a treatment plan is developed. We are even able to fill prescriptions through the health center or our partner, A&B Pharmacy, who will deliver to the shelter. After these steps, patients who are in need of more care are scheduled for an appointment at the health center,” she explained.
Harris pointed out that one lesson of the pandemic is that personal circumstances can change in the blink of an eye.
“Loss of work, wages and the ability to pay the monthly mortgage or rent can leave an individual or a family homeless,” Harris observed.
“I am thankful for the opportunity to provide medical care as a nurse practitioner to the men, women and children who come to temporarily stay at the Urban Mission’s homeless shelter until they can get back on their feet,” Harrison continued. “I have a deep respect for these people who are working through their hardships with courage and perseverance, and I’m honored that they place their trust in me as their primary care provider during and after their time at the Urban Mission’s homeless shelter.”
When it comes to partnership, Steele said Urban Mission and the health center have always shared a special relationship.
“From close connections in the early years to true partnership opportunities coming to fruition now through our shelters, we both have always realized the importance of providing holistic and community-centered care and are excited that we get to do this together now,” Steele commented.
“Ann’s forethought in offering health services in our shelter(s) was transformational for us,” Steele added. “To have a consistent presence of professional health providers offering high-quality health care at our shelter each week has not only filled a tremendous gap in care for the Urban Mission but has also benefited so many of our guests already,” she said.
“And I have always appreciated the way in which they provide care. It is ‘dignity affirming,’ done in love and offered without judgment,” Steele commented.
Future plans include Wintersville United Methodist Church providing a dedicated space for medical exams as well.
The “hope” the center provides carries over into the theme for its upcoming key fundraiser May 15.
“Where Hope Grows” is the theme of the center’s gala being co-chaired by Tony Mougianis and Tara Dzvonick. It kicks off at 5 p.m. with a champagne reception, followed by dinner and a program at 6 p.m. that includes the acknowledgment of three honorees for their contributions to the center and their dedication to the community.
The award recipients fall in three categories and include Diann Schmitt, Medical Provider of the Year; Dr. Janet Bischof, Volunteer of the Year; and the Charles M. and Thelma M. Pugliese Foundation, the OVHC Community Partner of the Year represented by trustees Tom Timmons, H. Lee Kinney and William W. McElwain.
Tickets are $50 per person, and sponsorships remain available. For information or to purchase tickets, visit www.ovhealthcenter.org or call (740) 283-2856. May 6 is the RSVP deadline. The fundraiser is open to anyone in the community, according to Quillen.
“We encourage people to come and share in the festivities,” Quillen said. “We definitely are looking for sponsors for the event. There’s no doubt about that, that this is a fundraiser and the money that’s raised through the sponsorships and in the mystery boxes and in the auction go to support the mission of the health center, so it’s open to the community.”
The gala is a semi-formal black-tie affair for those who choose. “You can wear your cocktail dress, you can wear your long gown, you can wear your tuxedo, your good suit. It’s just a nice event,” Quillen said.
Back by popular demand are mystery boxes where attendees can purchase one with a number that correlates to a prize they’ll receive.
“We have more than $10,000 worth of prizes for mystery boxes and the live auction,” Quillen said.
“We have wonderful things donated. We have Steelers tickets and a limo ride to that game,” she said, in addition to a framed painting by Richmond artist Gina Judy that serves as the backdrop for the gala booklet, invitations and decorations. There’s also a Dave Barnhouse print.
“We’re creating a spa package for women and a tailgating and another package for men so those will be really nice items for people to bid on.”
The gala is returning to an in-person event for the first time since 2019, having been interrupted by the pandemic.
The goal is that the gala will raise about $90,000. The event is the health center’s No. 1 fundraiser, she emphasized.