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Ascension’s Seton Medical Mission at Home Provides Needed Heathcare for Hays Residents

By on January 29, 2017 in Central Texas, Featured, Pro Bono with 0 Comments

Texas has the biggest share of its people lacking health coverage of any state. One out of every four people in Texas live without health insurance.  Dr. Karina Gutierrez Lopez examines a young Hispanic  woman due in three week while her husband waits for word on the health of their new hombre. Photo: Ed Lallo/Lallo Photography

by Ed Lallo/Health News Texas Editor

Children playing with surgical gloves blown up as balloons, the constant thrum of chatter bouncing off hard surfaces, men and women of all ages scurrying from one station to the next, some with cheeks bulging with gauze, and a host of volunteers in navy T-shirts doing their best to keep lines organized and moving. This is Ascension Medical Mission at Home brought to Hays County by Seton Healthcare Family, the product of more than 500 volunteers and more than a dozen community organizations to meet the needs of residents who lack access to medical, behavioral health, dental and vision care and services.

Hays County is a Designated Health Care Professional Shortage Area with a significantly lower number of primary care physicians than the rest of Texas and the United States. Almost one in fiver persons is uninsured – better than the Texas average but worse than the US average of 16 percent.

Hays County is a Designated Health Care Professional Shortage Area with a significantly lower number of primary care physicians than the rest of Texas and the United States. Photo: Ed Lallo/Lallo Photography

More than 1500 patients, family and caregivers waited to be seen on a first-come, first-served basis. Services provided include; basic medical care for children and adults, labs, immunizations, children’s eye exams, behavioral health screenings, dental exams and procedures, pharmacy consultation and prescriptions, diabetes education, mammograms, foot care and spiritual care. The visitors to Seton Medical Center Hays were then guided to community resources to continue their care.

Gloria Alva from San Marcos sat patiently waiting to be treated for swollen sinuses behind a curtain in a long line of hospital exam rooms usually reserved for pre-op patients. After a careful examination, as well as a sinus expert consult, her diagnosis finally came; Alva suffered symptoms from the same epidemic a majority of Central Texans face every year at this time – allergies.

“I was glad I was not really sick,” Alva said leaving the hospital (with medicine?). “This was good. We need more access like this.”

As patients reached the front of the long line, Seton Healthcare staff sorted them according to their needs, a process called triage. Before seeing medical professionals, patients were offered a footbath in the Catholic spirit of Pope Francis.

Before seeing patients, caregivers received the “blessing of the hands” by members of the hospital’s pastoral care.

“I saw a very diverse population of patients,” said Dr. Fausto Meza (r), examining Gloria Alva for a sinus condition. Photo: Ed Lallo/Lallo Photography

“I saw a very diverse population of patients,” said internist Fausto Meza, medical director Medicine for Seton Medical Center Hays. “Patients who are too busy to get healthcare because they are taking care of their loved ones came in with blood pressure over 200. Their families heard about this community event and drove them here so they could get the attention they need.”

Maria Perez of Buda brought her two little ones, Gabby and Mari, as well as herself for care. “People here were very nice. They care about us and treated us very well. This is just very, very special,” said the young mother originally from Columbia. “All hospitals should be doing this. There are a lot of people like us who may not have insurance. This is just awesome.”

Serving the Community’s Medical Needs

Families were welcomed to the free clinic by Jesus Garza (r), president and CEO of Seton Healthcare Family. “Ascension Medical Mission at Home serves the medical needs of those in our community that do not have health insurance or few healthcare options,” he explained. Photo: Ed Lallo/Lallo Photography

“Ascension Medical Mission at Home serves the medical needs of those in our community that do not have health insurance or few healthcare options,” explained Jesus Garza, president and CEO of Seton Healthcare Family in Austin and a senior vice president of Ascension’s health delivery division. “In addition to providing immediate treatment, we connect those we serve to community resources so they can obtain continued care.”

According to Garza, the event also shows public officials on the local, state and national levels the tremendous need, not only in Hays County but across Central Texas, for healthcare services for persons living in poverty.

Texas still has the biggest share of its people lacking health coverage of any state. One out of every four people in Texas live without health insurance. Photo: Ed Lallo/Lallo Photography

Texas still has the biggest share of its people lacking health coverage of any state. One out of every four people in Texas live without health insurance.

According to the Texas Medical Association, a summary of national data by the Congressional Budget Office shows groups with a high likelihood of lacking health insurance include:

  • People in families with income below 200 percent of the poverty level;
  • Hispanics;
  • Young adults, age 19 to 34;
  • People in families in which the adults worked either part-time or only part of the year; or
  • Individuals in fair or poor health status who are significantly more likely than others to be uninsured for longer periods.

Volunteer dentist from HOPE Smiles, a Seton partner in the event, work on a patient needing dental care. Photo: Ed Lallo/Lallo Photography.

In addition, Texas workers like Tomas Castro are less likely to have employment-based health insurance coverage than those in other states. According to Castro, who came to get free dental work, he was happy that this event took place when it did. “It was a good experience,” he explained in his broken English. “I thank Seton.”

“I am one of the millions of people in our county that have fallen through the cracks in our healthcare system. Currently I am not able to obtain any type of healthcare,” said Kathleen Biliti, who travel from Austin for the event.

“I am one of the millions of people in our county that have fallen through the cracks in our healthcare system. Currently I am not able to obtain any type of healthcare,” said Kathleen Biliti, who travel from Austin for the event. Photo: Ed Lallo/Lallo Photography

Biliti was treated for a reoccurring condition. “It’s important that other hospital providers and health services partake in these type of functions so that those of us that are uninsured can get the lifesaving healthcare we deserve,” she said.

“These events fill the hearts of our staff and allow us to live out our mission,” said Dr. Meza sitting in the hospital’s waiting area, exhausted after a long day. “There is something special about doing it in our own home, it was a family here. We treated workers, moms, Hispanics, children, as well as the elderly. We were setting an example for the future healthcare workers. The best is truly here.”


Ascension Medical Mission at Home brought to you by Seton partners:

Before seeing medical professionals, patients were offered a footbath in the Catholic spirit of Pope Francis. Photo: Ed Lallo/Lallo Photography


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