The Jefferson County Fourth Street Health Center located at 701 N. Fourth St., Steubenville, got a show of support to the tune of $5,000 when a check presentation took center stage at the March 5 meeting of the GFWC/Ohio Woman's Club of Steubenville meeting held at the Steubenville Country Club.
Kathy Mills, club president, made the presentation to Ann Quillen, the center's executive director, and Andy and Mary Mihalyo, who are the co-chairs of the health center's upcoming gala fundraiser set for April 1 at St. Florian Hall in Wintersville. The goal is to raise $200,000.
The doors for that event will open at 5 p.m., and tickets can be purchased by calling Quillen at the center at (740) 283-2856.
DONATION?MADE — Above, a check for $5,000 was presented by the GFWC/Ohio Woman’s Club of Steubenville at its March 5 meeting to the Jefferson County Fourth Street Health Center. Kathy Mills, club president, second from left, presented the check to, Ann Quillen, third from left, the center’s executive director. With them are Mary and Andy Mihalyo, co-chairs of the center’s sixth-annual fundraiser gala set for April 1.
-- Janice R. Kiaski
"I am so grateful to this woman's club and for your faithful support," Quillen told the group which has been a past donator to the cause. "You are making an impact on the patient care that we provide," she said, sharing with the women her practice of selecting a scripture verse each year to focus on in relation to what's happening at the center. She does this as a faith-based person, not because the center is faith-based per se.
One year she chose 2 Timothy 1:7 - "For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline."
"I can sometimes feel a little overwhelmed by what is out there and what we're trying to accomplish and that scripture verse was always an encouragement to me, that God is giving us a spirit of power and of a sound mind in that we're making wise choices," she said.
"This year, there's so much happening at the clinic, so many wonderful things that are going on," Quillen said, reminding the club members that the center's mission statement is to provide quality health care to the medically uninsured and underserved of Jefferson County.
"We serve as a primary care doctor's office. We assist patients with chronic health conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. This next year we are expanding our care. We are growing in leaps and bounds," she said.
In 2010, the center cared for about 500 patients. In 2011, it jumped to 918.
Much is in the works, she said.
The center has been working with Eastern Gateway Community College and dentists Dr. Joe Clause and Dr.Tom Brown to provide a dental clinic," she cited as one example.
"We have partnered with Jefferson Behavioral Health and have written a grant and received news we are going to be funded for $101,000 to provide mental health care to the patients of the Fourth Street Health Center, and we always had a wonderful working relationship with Dr. Mary Mihalyo and her charitable pharmacy so we are going to expand that aspect of our care as well," Quillen said.
"We are going to be working toward becoming a medical home for the uninsured of Jefferson County," Quillen said, noting there's only one other free clinic in Ohio that is attempting to do this.
Being a medical home, she said, means providing care in four ways - primary care, dental care, mental health care and pharmacy care.
"We are moving in that direction," Quillen said.
"We had a generous donation of property given to the health center, the building directly next door to the health center was donated to us, and we are in current renovation plans, possible new building plans to determine what we're going to do next, but we are going to be expanding our care."
So the scripture verse this year, she said, is Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know of the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
"You are a part of this by making your contribution and supporting not just with your finances but with your prayers and verbally supporting in the community and attending our functions, you are part of the plan and the Lord is using you, and we are providing hope, and we are giving our patients a future," Quillen said.
"Many times our folks come in, and they feel hopeless and helpless and after they have been examined and provided a treatment plan and educated they leave our health center feeling hopeful and feeling helped and feeling like they're able to move forward in their future so it's such an encouragement," she said.
The gala set for April 1 is an important event in the life of the center, according to Quillen, who said the center is blessed to have it under the leadership of the Mihalyos.
"This year the gala knowing the things that we're going to be doing over this next year, needs to be hugely successful. It always has been, but this year especially, obviously, because we're going to be expanding our care but also because of the impact we have on people's lives. Daily we see folks come in, and we're able to provide them with medications and treatments and get them connected to the right doctors for other care," Quillen said.
Quillen offered some health center statistics from 2011, including logging more than 5,491.5 volunteer hours donated by doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses and support staff and providing care for 1,594 patient visits.
"One of the biggest ways we assist patients is through the prescription assistance program where we did 984 applications for free medicine and assisted with prescriptions, saving our patients a little over half a million dollars. That's pretty significant," Quillen said.
The center also has 14 different health care providers who volunteer their time.
"You know it really doesn't matter what our nice building looks like or what kind of services we line up to provide if we don't have doctors and nurse practitioners willing to come down and provide services we might as well kick our ball and go home because it doesn't happen without these folks," she said.
Quillen was asked if the center is able to accept unused medication, and deferred to Dr. Mary Mihalyo to offer the response. Although people's intentions might be good and the gesture appreciated, that is not permitted by law.
A Money for Meds campaign to raise money for medicine, however, is a way to help. Although it is not operating at a high level yet, about $500 a month in loose change is being collected, Dr. Mary Mihalyo said.
"So you'll be out shopping and you'll see our containers soon at the cash registers, and we hope you'll support it. We're looking for other ways to just basically raise really a small amount of money that can purchase a prescription product to manage hypertension for 30 days. We can manage high blood pressure, and we can actually manage congestive heart failure for less than $20 a month so it's amazing, and I'm certainly just talking the medication use," she said.
An inquiry about how to properly dispose of prescription medicine brought this explanation. "The preferred method of disposal is to take your medications, if you're going to dispose of them at home, put them in an empty container or coffee can or something like that, add a cup of water just to moisten the product and then add to that kitty litter or coffee grounds and then you just put the lid back on the container and tape it up and really you should mark it as medical waste," she said.
Prescription pickup programs are another option, one she anticipated in Jefferson County this spring.
"Thank you very much for supporting our clinic," she said.
Andy Mihalyo commended the club for its work and its help.
"This whole initiative for the gala represents a huge, huge part of what Ann's budget is on an annual basis," he said of the gala's goal.
He reminisced about assisting several patients with free medication when he and his wife operated A&B Sunset Pharmacy during the 1980s.
"We had several patients that could not afford their medications for blood pressure or diabetes or a lot of different advanced chronic illness and many of them were the working poor as Ann has talked about a lot of her patients coming to the free clinic are working but can't afford health insurance," he said.
"What touched me so much was that you know on occasion we would go out when our delivery guys weren't around and deliver medications to some of these people and some of them would actually come to tears because we would give them the medications for free because they couldn't afford it, and they were cutting blood pressure medicine in half or not talking them and of course you know what happens with that - you become seriously ill - so there's such a tremendous need for this and right now there are a lot of people who fall through the cracks if it were not for the Fourth Street Health Center. Your contribution to us last year, prior years, this year, is such a huge part of being able to provide that money, and my wife Mary has mentioned 20 bucks can actually manage congestive heart failure so when you divide that $20 into your contribution that you guys are giving us this year, you can really help save a lot of lives," he said.
Donna Keagler gave the reading and prayer.
Judy Brancazio, program chair, introduced the program speaker, who was Carol Scheftic of the Pittsburgh area, a former teacher who shared her passion for making metal clay jewelry.
The next meeting on April 2 will feature Charles Green, vice president of the Jefferson County Historical Association, whose topic will be Edwin M. Stanton, the Steubenville native who served as President Abraham Lincoln's secretary of war.
The luncheon meeting will be held at noon at the country club with the board meeting preceding it at 11 a.m.