By Sean Barron
For more than a month, April Elferdaousy has dealt with a nagging eye infection, but more nagging is a lack of health care coverage that has discouraged her from having the problem treated.
“If you don’t have insurance, you let it go,” said Elferdaousy, a first-year kindergarten teacher with the Islamic Society of Greater Youngstown.
On Saturday, though, she saw her way clearer, thanks to having taken advantage of a free one-day health clinic at One Health Ohio’s Youngstown Community Health Center, 726 Wick Ave. on the North Side.
Partnering with the clinic for the five-hour gathering was Cleveland-based MedWorks Inc., which provided physical exams, HIV testing, dental screenings, blood-pressure, glucose and cholesterol tests, and flu shots to people who are uninsured or underinsured.
Also available was a social worker who helped the clients get connected to resources to help them better navigate through the health care system and schedule follow-up appointments with One Health Ohio’s Youngstown, Warren and Alliance offices, noted Mary T. Amjad, MedWorks’ director of development and marketing.
Saturday also marked MedWorks’ first visit to the Mahoning Valley. Most of the nonprofit agency’s patients live in Cuyahoga County, Amjad explained.
An estimated 161 patients made appointments for Saturday’s offerings, she said, adding that walk-ins also were welcome.
Before seeing any of the 20 physicians at the clinic, patients consulted with a triage nurse who reviewed their medical histories, ascertained their chief complaints and took their vital signs, Amjad explained.
Elferdaousy, who received eye drops, observed that many people without coverage tend to live with pain and neglect their health problems, which leads only to bigger problems and bills. Nevertheless, Elferdaousy said, she left the clinic with added peace of mind knowing she may well have averted long-term eye problems.
“The doctor was really excellent and so caring,” she added. “The doctor addressed all of my concerns.”
Guerino Thomas of Youngstown also left with greater peace of mind after having received a dental screening.
“It feels great to get answers to some questions I had regarding my teeth,” Thomas said, adding that he also took home information from which to follow up on dental work.
One of those to have gotten a free flu shot was 13-year-old Madison Cecil of Youngstown, a Youngstown Christian School eighth-grader.
Saturday was Madison’s first time to such a clinic. The teen also had her hearing and blood pressure checked, both of which were OK, she said.
MedWorks, founded in 2009, has provided 22 such clinics mainly throughout Northeast Ohio and partners with a host of dental, medical and vision clinics, Amjad noted. In addition, social workers are able to direct patients to agencies and other resources that operate on a sliding-scale fee.
“Everything we are providing here today is completely free,” she said about Saturday’s clinic. “It really is meaningful.”