Central New York, Community, Health, Jobs, Poverty, Syracuse

Syracuse Church Treats People Without Health Insurance

The Assumption Church on North Salina Street has been treating people without healthcare for free through its Poverello Health Center.

Video Transcript:16April2018 TLang Church Clinic SCRIPT

By Taylor Lang SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC NEWS) – The Assumption Church on North Salina Street has been treating people without healthcare for free through its Poverello Health Center.

The clinic is open on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. People looking to be treated do not have to call ahead and can just walk in to be treated.

Sister James Peter Ridgeo is one of the founders of the clinic. She realized the need for a place to treat those without healthcare during a coffee and chat event the Assumption Church was doing.

Sister James Peter Ridgeo                              Courtesy of Assumption Syracuse

“I think we fill in the gaps of those who fall between the cracks,” Sister James said.

All of the doctors and nurses are volunteers. The staff even includes specialists to help treat some of the more specific medical problems. The tools and prescriptions are all donated or bought using funds donated to the clinic.

Some of the donors, like Gregg Hessler, feel the need to return to do something nice for the clinic after how the staff members helped them.

“I was diabetic at the time and a bunch of other stuff,” Hessler said. “They had the doctors here to see me and I didn’t have health insurance, so that’s what I did. Because I’m not diabetic anymore, I dropped off some needles and insulin I had laying around.”

Sister James said the majority of patients who come in are either off the street or people in their twenties who have been taken off of their family’s health insurance before they could get their own.

Claire Meland came in for treatment after her co-workers told her she needed to get examined. Since she does not have health insurance, she did not want to go to Urgent Care. Her friend told her about the clinic, and she left being very grateful for the medical attention she received.

“This is kind of that part time of my life where I am just kind of winging it,” Meland said about her healthcare. “As soon as I get a real job, that’s something I want to get. Until then, I am just crossing my fingers and am happy that places like these exist.”

The doctors and nurses are hoping to someday not have to do this type of work anymore. They said that Obamacare lowered the amount of people they saw each night by almost 50 percent, but with some of the actions taken by the Trump Administration, they are slowly starting to see more people again each night.

Sister James says she hopes to see free healthcare for all passed in the New York State Budget.

“That would be great!” she said. “Good way of losing a job. That way everyone is taken care of.”