Healing with Hands. Observation Trail, Garden of the Gods

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1 Healing with Hands Observation Trail, Garden of the Gods 6 Aspects Winter 2003

2 Sharon Hull, M.D., left, teaches Danielle Waldrop (MSI) how to conduct a patient exam at the Hands of Hope Clinic. RHI lends a helping hand to a Marion health clinic. T he 1:30 p.m. patient couldn t get to the clinic because her car broke down. Most other clinics would simply reschedule the patient. But at the Hands of Hope clinic, a nurse volunteers her time to drive to the patient s home and bring her to the facility. of Hope Community spirit like that is what makes Hands of Hope a success in Marion, Illinois. With a population of 13,000, Marion is one of the larger towns in the area, but access to health care for the uninsured is as great a problem as it is in smaller towns. The Hands of Hope clinic was created partly through a grant from SIU School of Medicine s Rural Health Initiative. It s a community, grass-roots, faith-based institution in an underserved area, says Mindy Hammond, R. N., executive director for Hands of Hope, who is passionate about the clinic. It s a safety net for people who need improved access to care. Open since 1999, the clinic has provided diagnostic and treatment services to people without health insurance in Franklin, Johnson and Williamson counties. A flyer on the waiting room wall declares the clinic s mission, aiming to get you back to work, to get a better job, to improve your financial condition, to afford private medical care and purchase medical insurance. The services include providing free medications and simple laboratory tests. Patients can use the clinic for two years, free of charge, though a donation is requested. They are then on their own for a year. At the end Aspects Winter

3 of that year, they may return to the clinic for six months. At that point, they are directed to the Rural Health System, which charges for services on a sliding scale. The idea is to get patients motivated to make their lives better, to get a job or get a better job, to lift themselves out of poverty, Hammond says. In 2001, more than 2,800 patients visited the clinic. Most of the illnesses we see are chronic, says Sharon Hull, M.D., assistant professor of family and community medicine and assistant dean of student affairs at SIU School of Medicine. Dr. Hull is one of eight physicians volunteering time and expertise at Hands of Hope. Diabetes, multiple sclerosis, heart disease and arthritis are among the common diagnoses, she says. Most of the patients we see are the working poor who are between the ages of 30 and 65 years old those who don t qualify for Medicaid or Medicare. In addition to physician care, the clinic coordinates access to laboratory and X-ray services. The clinic also has added a dental program to provide oral health care. One of the five exam rooms has been converted into a dental exam room. What is striking about Hands of Hope is not just the services provided, but its spirit of happiness and hope. I ve had the most joy being here, Hammond says. It renews my hope for the future. The joy is evident all around. The receptionist enthusiastically teaches new volunteers the ropes of the reception desk; the pharmacist and assistant exchange barbs in the back. A cheerful Dr. Hull buzzes through - out the exam rooms and all of them are volunteers. Pharmacist Lalla Duty keeps close track of medications dispensed at Hands of Hope. The computer she uses was purchased from an RHI grant. Volunteers are the heart of the program, says Hammond, who is the only full-time employee. More than 200 volunteers, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists and community members, keep the clinic running. Not only do volunteers lend a helping hand, but first-year SIU medical students also assist, while acquiring real-life experience treating patients. Danielle Waldrop (MSI) was eagerly anticipating her first day at the clinic. She began examining and interviewing patients under the watchful eye of mentor physicians, part of the School s first year clinical skills curriculum. I m really looking forward to helping patients, she says with a smile. Hammond welcomes having the clinic serve double duty as a training ground for future physicians. SIU School of Medicine helps us enor - mously with people like Dr. Hull and the medical students. It s good for medical students to see the need in the community. In addition to help from School of Medicine faculty and students, the School s Rural Health Initiative support has been critical. In 2002, more than $29,000 from the Rural Heath Initiative purchased a laptop, a copier and software for the pharmacy com - puter. One of the pharmacists, Lalla Duty, has been an indispensable asset to clinic, says Hammond. She coordi - nates medications, ensuring patients receive their medications in a timely manner, and also keeps close track of the medicine distributed by the clinic. Last year we dispensed medicine valued at $250,000, says Hammond. Hammond s goals for the clinic include recruiting more physicians, dentists, pharmacists and nurses for evening clinics and eventually moving to a larger facility. In addition, the clinic s success has motivated surrounding counties to create their own facilities. The clinic is a resource these patients wouldn t otherwise have, Hammond stresses. Without the outreach of programs like the Rural Health Initiative and our incredible volunteers, these patients would be without health care. It s a real community effort. 8 Aspects Winter 2003

4 Filling a Need need RHI helped make mental health care services a reality at Carterville Family Practice Center. Carterville, Illinois, is nestled in between Marion and Carbondale, with the glorious Crab Orchard Lake within walking distance and other natural landscapes just a short drive away. Mental health care would be a longer drive, if not for help provided by SIU s Rural Health Initiative. Breathing techniques are one of the methods Dr. Walt Elliston uses in his psychiatric practice at Carterville Family Practice Center. Aspects Winter

5 Psychiatric resources are virtually unavailable in much of southern Illinois, says Connie Favreau, R.N., assistant to the executive director of Shawnee Health Service, which coordinates downstate Illinois health centers and programs funded in part or in whole by federal state and local government and private agencies. Many of our patients used to have to drive to other cities for mental health care. That changed thanks in part to the SIU School of Medicine s Rural Health Initiative, which has partnered with Shawnee Health Centers to provide numerous services. Through funding from RHI, Shawnee established a Behavioral Health Program at the Carterville Family Practice Center, which attracted the expertise of psychiatrist Walter Elliston, M.D. The program was a good fit for Dr. Elliston, a 1997 graduate of SIU School of Medicine. For him, moving to Carter - ville was like coming home. I m originally from Mount Vernon, and I love the feeling of being in a small town. Dozens of residents are on the waiting list for Dr. Elliston s services, the only psychiatrist at the Center. There s not a lot of understanding of the impact of mental illness in smaller towns, he says. Depression is the number one diagnosis for adults under age 65 across Shawnee s health centers in southern Illinois. We see the entire spectrum of mental illness, adds Favreau. There is such a great need in southern Illinois for this kind of care. In addition, Dr. Elliston s presence has helped Shawnee acquire additional federal grants. The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy reports that one rural physician generates at least five full-time jobs and stimulates local economic activity. Accordingly, Dr. Elliston s services directly led to the hiring of a licensed clinical social worker, Melanie Nordstrom, and two case managers, Kay Egelston and Renee Weems. These federally funded employees wouldn t have been brought in without the services provided by Dr. Elliston. The team is making a definite impact in the community. Patients will seek out these services locally, where they are comfortable, rather than going to a larger, unfamiliar area with more services, Weems says. We especially have a lot of seasonal disorders, adds Egelston. I notice when the weather gets cold and rainy, our phones ring more. There s definitely a cycle. Nordstrom points out the privacy benefits for the patients. The Carterville Family Practice Center provides a variety of patient-care services, so 10 Aspects Winter 2003

6 Dr. Elliston talks with his team: (from left) licensed clinical social worker Melanie Nordstrom, and case managers Kay Egelston and Renee Weems. patients can tell their families they re just going to see the doctor, she says. Plus, we can exchange information with their physicians since we re in the same building. Nordstrom enjoys the multi-generational aspect of working in a small town. We can promote positive behaviors with entire families. Favreau stresses that the outreach of programs like RHI has helped make Dr. Elliston s services a reality. RHI s support has been a tremendous help to us in establishing mental health care services. It s been a wonderful, collaborative effort. Weems agrees. They really are helping us grow and build a good, strong relationship with community providers. Without the addition of Dr. Elliston, we couldn t have brought the team together, and these patients wouldn t be served. The needs continue, and patients continue to seek out the services. We expect additional growth, notes Favreau. We ve only just begun to get moving and overcome patient reluctance. The group has organized seminars for the health-care providers to increase awareness of mental health and behavioral health issues. We re so grateful to the Rural Health Initiative. We started from scratch, but with their help, we ve come a long way. Aspects Winter

7 Living w i t h Red Hills State Park 12 Aspects Winter 2003

8 Carolyn Shafer (standing) helps her aunt, Mildred Jones, check her . Jones is one of the Fox Valley Apartment residents who is learning computer skills. Senior citizens find a comfortable, affordable refuge at Fox River Apartments. RHI helps make it happen. D i g n i t y Olney s most famous resident: the white squirrel. With the world-famous white squirrels residing just down the street, Fox River Apartments is home to 30 senior residents of Olney, Ill., providing affordable, assisted-living housing with a host of services included. It most definitely is not a nursing home, stresses service manager Kelsey Phillips. Fox River is a place for the elderly to live independently, with a little support. A nursing home is the furthest image from your mind when visiting Fox River, where low- to moderate-income senior residents rent comfortable, affordable apartments. Walking in, Fox River feels more like a hotel. An elegant, tastefully decorated facility, the single-level structure includes a network of hallways that lead from one interesting activity to another including exercise classes and computer training. There is a huge need for assisted-living facilities, Phillips says. An estimated 20 percent of Olney s 9,600 residents are over age 65. In places like Fox River, seniors maintain responsibility for their finances and their daily activities. It s a great asset to the community. Our mission is to respond to the needs of an increasingly frail population, notes Fox River Director Arlene Tippy. Family members have told me that their relatives are happy because they make friends here. Aspects Winter

9 Exercise class is just one of the benefits of living at Fox River Apartments. SIU School of Medicine s Rural Health Initiative assisted with funding the developmental phase of the facil - ity, and it was just a year ago that Fox River opened its doors. The complex is thriving. The cozy apartments nine studio apartments and 21 one-bedroom apartments all are equipped with a kitchen with a cook top, a small refrigerator, microwave and sink. Specially designed walk-in showers keep residents safety in mind. Residents bring their own furnishings, creating a homey atmosphere. Meals are provided in a spacious dining room overlooking some of the five acres of the grounds. Independence, privacy and dignity are key themes of the residence. We want to facilitate a feeling of ownership and community, says Tippy, who stresses that residents though they may be frail are responsible for paying rent, taking care of their apartments and themselves. But help is always available from the nine staff members who serve the residents. Some are certified nursing assistants, and most have experience working with the elderly. Each resident wears an emergency response pendant to summon help. Staff wear pagers to receive the calls. Fox River provides assistance in a secure environment, Phillips says. There s always something happening at Fox River Apartments. Families drop by often, bringing grandchildren and great-grandchildren for a visit. Local businesses buzz in and out, bringing flowers, new furniture, greeting the residents as friends. Groups often party in the sunroom or the private dining room. The residents laugh and stretch as staff lead them in weekly exercises classes. Some take some laps around the facility. We keep busy and active, says resident Monica Drewes, who lives at Fox River with her husband, Al. Other residents visit with family and friends in their rooms, later heading out on the town for lunch. Juanita Stanley happily spends hours putting together puzzles in the craft room. I find puzzles very relaxing, she says. The room doubles as a beauty salon, where a local beautician comes in once a week to fix hair. Tippy hopes to implement additional programs targeted at men, such as woodworking. We want to have activities for men that keep them active and satisfied. Tippy was passionate about building the facility on land that overlooks the Olney community college, where residents can watch the students come and go, play soccer. It s great to have that younger generation so close, Tippy says. Their energy feeds our residents. The facility is working with the Olney Central College to develop adult education programs. The college students have brought musical performances to the facility, including Les Miserables and the college s chamber orchestra. We couldn t have started Fox River without partnership with the Rural Health Initiative, Tippy says. Thanks to their kind of effort, the facility fulfills a need in the community for its residents. This is their home. 14 Aspects Winter 2003

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