Doctors of Mission of Mercy offer medical care to the needy as a gift of love

August 25, 1994|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Staff Writer

Mercy and medical assistance arrived in the county yesterday on the wheels of a 32-foot Pace Arrow van.

Mission of Mercy, a traveling health clinic offering free services for the needy, opened its doors at the Human Services Programs building in Westminster to show local health and social workers what it provides.

Debbie Middleton, director of nursing at the county Health Department, said Carroll County has uninsured residents who could benefit from the mission. "It is a wonderful and necessary service to those who can't afford care," she said.

"It is difficult for people without insurance to find sources of care in the community," said Pat Burnett, county maternal/child health supervisor.

One goal -- healing through love -- guides the nonprofit organization, which, although unaffiliated with any religious group, lets its actions preach for it.

"Our actions speak the symbol of love," said Dr. Gianna Sullivan, founder of the Emmitsburg-based mission, which is supported through private donations.

"There are so many lonely, homeless, sick and poor people," she said. "Our hope is to restore dignity through healing and love. Both those who give and receive really do benefit from the work."

Westminster is one of four Western Maryland cities that the van will visit twice monthly. Brochures list the services the mission can provide, including assessment and treatment of most common ailments, as well as diagnostic studies. The staff will keep medical records on all patients and will help them get access to existing care systems.

The van has two examining rooms, a lab and a waiting room. Prescription drugs, but not narcotics, will be available at no cost to patients. Storage areas are filled with supplies to fit any emergency.

The staff will be Dr. Sullivan, who is a pharmacologist; two physicians, including her husband, Dr. Michael Sullivan; two registered nurses; and a lab technician. About 30 people have volunteered to help.

"Obviously, this is not on the grand scale of the Mayo Clinic," said Dr. Gianna Sullivan. "We hope to provide the best treatment and care and be of service to the working poor and those who are under-insured or without insurance."

Dr. Cheryl Ortel, a gynecologist who is volunteering with the mission, said she hoped the open house would show the community "who we are and what we are trying to accomplish."

"I will provide the same care and give the same time as I would to private patients," she said.

Dr. Ortel said she thinks the staff will soon be fairly busy and see patients with a variety of illnesses.

"We are targeting a population which has difficulty getting access to the medical community," she said. "Many people have lingering ailments and want to go to a doctor, but they can't afford to."

David Liddle, mission executive director, said that everywhere the mission stops, he sees great need.

"We all recognize the need is clear. Fortunately, we have put together an organization to address those needs," he said.

Three people had made appointments with the mission doctors yesterday and several others dropped in for a look.

"This is a wonderful thing they are doing," said Bernie Kelch, HSP receptionist. "More people are calling today, so I know we can keep them busy."

The mission will return to Westminster on alternate Tuesdays beginning Sept. 6. Call the Human Services operator at 857-2999 for an appointment.

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