Providing Healing and Restoring Dignity to the Community
By Tessa Adams
Imagine working a back-breaking job more than 40 hours a week and having no access to affordable healthcare. It may not be difficult to picture, as this is true for more than 38 million Americans.
Such was the situation for a Gettysburg man who came home from work to find his wife immobile for the third week in a row. The couple had avoided going to the emergency room or urgent care for days because they had no insurance and no money for medical care. Thankfully, the husband recently heard about Mission of Mercy (lovingly known as MOM) and literally carried his wife into the registration room.
The room was not a typical doctor’s office. Instead, it was in a church on West Middle Street in Gettysburg, and the doctors were outside in what looked like a typical RV. Desperate for any help he could find for his wife, he filled out the minimal but necessary paperwork and hoped for the best. Enter Dr. Michael Sullivan, MOM’s medical director. Dr. Sullivan met with the woman and her husband and, with the help of his team of licensed medical volunteers, was able to find the problem in her hip and treat her with one shot of a steroid. She left the clinic walking. What could have cost this hardworking couple hundreds of dollars only cost them a few hours in the waiting room and a procedure that cost Dr. Sullivan just $2.50.
“We expect miracles,” Dr. Sullivan says after sharing this story to a group of community members touring the clinic. “It is our mission to restore dignity and healing through love at mobile clinics, providing free healthcare and medications to those who are uninsured or underinsured and those who do not have access to healthcare.”
Given the high costs of doctors’ and dentists’ visits and some medications, patients often delay seeking care. This places an undue burden on community hospitals and may cause patients who don’t qualify for sick leave to lose days of work and pay. Many of MOM’s patients have chronic health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure and are seen on a regular basis so they may continue to live healthy, productive lives.
“After 26 years, we operate like a fine-tuned instrument,” says Linda Ryan, MOM’s executive director. “But we could not accomplish our mission without the graciousness of our volunteers.”
The Gettysburg MOM location is in desperate need of licensed dentists and oral surgeons. “If everyone in Adams County would ask their dentist to take just one MOM patient a year, we would impact countless lives in the community and possibly even save some as well. You don’t realize how important dental hygiene is until you don’t have access to it,” Ryan says. MOM pays the malpractice insurance for every licensed medical and dental professional. Other needs for volunteers at the clinic include dental assistants, physical therapists, diabetes educators, and interpreters.
While there is a critical need for medical professional volunteers, truly anyone in the community can contribute to MOM’s mission. Community members can champion its cause by connecting the organization to businesses and supporters. Simply sharing MOM’s posts on Facebook and asking church leaders if a representative from MOM could speak at your church, or if your congregation would support MOM, could be transformational to the citizens of Adams County.
MOM does not receive government funding and relies on support from foundations, businesses, individuals, civic organizations, and the faith community. To learn more, visit www.aMissionofMercy.org. Interested in volunteering or finding other ways you can be a part of MOM’s mission? Contact Jennifer White, development director, at jwhite@aMissionofMercy.org.
Tour the Facilities
Dr. Sullivan, Ryan, and White personally invite the readers of Celebrate
Gettysburg on a tour of any of their clinics. In addition to their Gettysburg location at FourSquare Church at 330 W. Middle St., open the second Wednesday of every month, MOM can also be found in Harrisburg and in Frederick, Brunswick, Taneytown, and Reisterstown, Md. For more information on these locations, dates of clinic tours, and hours of operation, visit www.aMissionofMercy.org.