A toothache, unchecked blood pressure, medication needs and a long-overdue mammogram were a few of the reasons participants attended Ascension Wisconsin’s first Ascension Medical Mission in Milwaukee in September.
A local high school was transformed into a medical center with help from more than 500 volunteers. Hundreds of healthcare professionals spent their Saturday delivering free care, including more than 600 medical and 147 dental services to 230 individuals.
According to Ascension Wisconsin’s 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment, one of the most important health issues in Milwaukee County is access to care. For those living without insurance or high deductibles they can’t afford, that can mean some people are living without vital health tests, screenings and medication.
Medical evaluations, laboratory testing, X-rays, mammograms, ultrasounds, medications, podiatry and dermatology screenings, along with dental services, were among the many services offered at no charge. By the end of the Medical Mission, the following services had been provided: 82 respiratory service visits, 19 imaging visits, 28 mammograms, 47 vision screenings, 139 prescriptions, 160 lab tests, services for 131 dental patients and 20 dermatology screenings.
Fannie Jones went to the Medical Mission for a mammogram, but when she saw all the additional services offered, she decided to take advantage of much more. “I just couldn’t believe it when I walked in here and saw everything being offered. It’s just amazing having all of this for free and all in one place. Thank you, Ascension,” she said.
“Our Ascension Medical Mission provides services to a really important group of people who either don't have health insurance or who are underinsured here in the greater Milwaukee area. Our dedication to helping those who are most in need is unwavering — this day is about positively impacting lives and improving health in our community,” said Kevin Kluesner, Chief Administrative Officer, Ascension St. Joseph.
The best part of the day for Theresa Gentile, a volunteer, was helping a patient who had been previously diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic but had stopped taking his medication.
“We were able to get his blood sugar tested, get a prescription filled and had him talk with a diabetic educator so he knew how to improve his health going forward,” she said.
Steve Shuda, a pharmacy volunteer, said what made his day meaningful was when he helped a patient get a needed blood glucose test kit at no charge and then enrolled her in a program through which the supplies will cost $6 a month going forward, rather than the $200 she had been paying.
In addition to medical and dental services, trained chaplains were on site offering spiritual services, including foot washing for 75 participants.
“The opportunity to connect and talk about feelings in a safe environment was truly appreciated by many and demonstrates our commitment to providing holistic care that includes the spiritual as well as the physical,” said Tim Waldoch, Chief Mission Integration Officer, Ascension Wisconsin.
Click here for a video about the Ascension Medical Mission in Milwaukee.