Marie died last week. She was 103 years old, and our oldest volunteer. Up until a year and a half ago she came in faithfully several times a year to help get our newsletter ready for ailing â€“ folding, stuffing, sealing, counting. After several hours, when her daughters would say it was time to go she would look around and say, â€œBut, weâ€™re not done yet.â€ To which they would respond, â€œWeâ€™ll be back tomorrow to finish,â€ and Marie would reluctantly concede to leaving for the day.
As is often the case with the elderly, a fall led to her decline and eventual journey to God. She is missed by many people and she has left her beautiful spirit in the world.
I think of Marie when people ask about the work of the Center these days and what the impact has been of the Affordable Care Act. Like Marie, I can say, â€œbut our work is not done yet, far from it.â€
The Center discharged about 250 individuals from our care either through expanded Medicaid eligibility limits or because people were able to purchase an affordable health care plan on the New York State Exchange. We assisted them with applications and selection and in finding new physicians.
Many of our patients and clients still found insurance products on the Exchange unaffordable for them and they are able to stay with us for their health care. We urge you to tell anyone you know who cannot afford insurance to call the Center for assistance.
We can also help people who have insurance but cannot afford to use the mental health, dental or chiropractic portions of their insurance because of unaffordable co-pays. We would rather see people receive these needed therapies than go without them. A call to the Center will determine eligibility.
There are successes every day at the Center of the large and small kind. In one week recently, your support and the incredible work of our volunteers wrought miracles that I would like you to know about.
A heart murmur was detected in a 57 year-old man by one of our Nurse Practitioners. He was seen at the Center within a week by a cardiologist, had an echocardiogram the next day and was diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis with a need for open heart surgery. Charity Care was arranged at Rochester General Hospital and within three weeks he has had a successful procedure and is on the road to recovery.
A 26 year-old young man presented on a Monday with a very painful abscess. Our medical team was able to get him to a specialist on Tuesday, he had surgery on Thursday, just in time for his wedding on Saturday!!
A 32 year-old man with a blood clot in his calf and a bone infection in his ankle that had been long-standing but unattended was quickly triaged in the foot and ankle clinic at Strong. The appropriate treatment and surgery was performed and this very serious condition was rectified.
These are all cases of people without insurance with life threatening conditions. Because we concentrate on primary care, not emergency care, these are the kinds of conditions
that we can pick up on more easily than a busy ER is able to. These scenarios also point to the tremendous community effort put forth to bring together volunteers, systems, finances and knowledge to save lives â€“ this is our specialty at the Center, â€œWhere Health is a Community Effort.â€
You are at the heart of these stories. It sounds dramatic to say that lives are saved, but it is really about teamwork, paying attention and getting systems to work in favor of the patients who present to us regardless of their insured state. That is our mission and once again I thank you for supporting that mission and ask your continued support. The ACA has helped some people â€“ there are a lot of people who are still not insured needing critical and chronic care.
Marie says, â€œBut we arenâ€™t done yet.â€
–Christine Wagner, SSJ