Scores of volunteers began arriving at Mueller Aerospace Magnet Elementary School shortly after dawn for Ascension Via Christi’s second Medical Mission at Home, which took place on Saturday, April 14.
Tina, the first participant, arrived soon thereafter.
Uninsured, Tina has not been seen by a doctor or dentist since giving birth in 2011. She didn’t want to miss the opportunity to take part in the “Day of Free Healthcare” being offered by Via Christi in collaboration with Wichita State University, the City of Wichita and more than 40 other community providers and organizations.
“The price was right and I thought I could even possibly do some networking as I’m looking for work,” says the 43-year-old single mother, whose sister died in 2012 as a result of an untreated abscessed tooth. “I’ve always been the one to help people, but now I’m the one who needs help. I feel like I’m at the lowest I could possibly be.”
However, she quickly brightened when talking about the opportunity to get care, noting, “I’d really like to keep all my teeth and make sure I’m healthy.”
At 9 a.m., volunteers gathered in the triage area for a hymn, brief program and blessing of the hands, then they quickly scattered so they would be ready to see their first patient at 9:30.
By then, Tina had been joined by dozens of others who had braved the bitter cold to attend the event. By 10 a.m., volunteer registrars checked in their 100th patient.
The last of the 235 participants who took part in this year’s event arrived shortly before 3 p.m. and by 6 p.m. the last of the approximately 900 volunteers who helped make the event possible had left the building – tired, but proud to have been a part of an event that makes such a tremendous difference in the lives of others.
“The clinical and non-clinical members of our community who gave of their time and talents at this event were just so proud to have played a part in its success,” says Cyndi Martin, who among other duties leads Volunteer Services for Via Christi’s Wichita hospitals. “God’s blessings were clearly evident from the start as I requested an additional four cases of bottled water for volunteers serving at the event and received 70!”
The leftover bottles of water were then donated to the school, whose generosity made it possible for the event to be moved indoors this year, she said.
Charity Clark helped organize and lead this year’s Medical Mission at Home, part of a larger Ascension initiative designed to improve access to care, particularly among those who are vulnerable or financially struggling, nationwide. She was supported by Heather Philippi and a multi-disciplinary group of clinical and non-clinical team leads.
“We came together with others as a community to serve those who lack access to basic medical care and more importantly help them connect with providers who can continue to address their health needs,” says Clark.
Services included medical care, testing and dispensing of prescription medicines; dental, vision and hearing screening; foot care; spiritual care; health and community resource education; and referrals for follow-up care. While data is still being collected, preliminary results show that 221 medical exams and 13 tooth extractions were performed, all at no cost to those being served.
“Medical Mission at Home embodies Ascension’s Catholic ministry and our mission to collaborate with the community to reach out in service, particularly to those who are most vulnerable,” says Peg Tichacek, Via Christi’s chief mission integration officer.
Mike Mullins, Via Christi CEO and ministry market leader for Ascension Kansas and Oklahoma, who helped out at the event all day, agrees, noting that it’s also an example of the benefits of being part of a larger national ministry.
“We, along with other Ascension ministries, have taken an initiative that started in Nashville, Tennessee, and used it as a model for developing Medical Mission at Home events of our own that we’ve tailored to the needs of the communities we serve,” says Mullins. “I could not be any prouder of my teammates, our partners or of the volunteers, donors and other community partners who helped make our Wichita Medical Mission at Home happen.”
CLICK HERE to see the full photo album from the 2018 Medical Mission at Home.