Medical care on wheels Mobile clinic brings treatment, compassion to those without.

April 16, 1996

AMID THE HEATED policy debates over reforming health care systems, the Mission of Mercy mobile clinic offers a direct, old-fashioned solution: bring treatment to the people who most need it.

The nonprofit medical mission regularly visits towns in Maryland and Pennsylvania, serving uninsured and underinsured patients with diagnosis, medication and caring.

Almost 2,000 people have been seen during the past 20 months by doctors, dentists and other health care professionals who volunteer for a turn with the clinic on wheels.

"There are so many lonely, homeless, sick and poor people Our hope is to restore dignity through healing and love," explains Gianna Talone-Sullivan, a pharmacologist who founded the mobile clinic with her physician husband in Emmitsburg.

Patient ailments are mostly non-life-threatening but painful, debilitating conditions that have become aggravated through neglect and lack of medical attention. The Sullivans and their corps of 70 volunteers try to treat those physical problems and to teach by example the lesson of compassion.

The newest stop for the Mission of Mercy is Taneytown, in northwest Carroll County. Half the town's population is at or below the poverty line, and many lack the transportation to get to the clinic when it comes to Westminster.

Last year, the town qualified for a federal block grant to establish a community health center to meet the health needs of low-income residents. But the new center isn't ready yet, and in any case won't offer the badly needed medical services that arrive in the Mission's converted motor coach.

Nearly 90 percent of the clinic's patients have no medical insurance, private or public. They lack access to other health care, which is why the mobile clinic is crowded at every stop, and why the waiting list is months long for an appointment at the mission's weekly dental clinic in Westminster.

Private donations and foundation grants support the mission, which is not affiliated with any church but was created from the humane inspiration of Dr. Talone-Sullivan and her husband. Its good works provide welcome relief for the needy, and exemplary inspiration for the community to serve the less fortunate.

Pub Date: 4/16/96

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