Canandaigua clinic serves working poor - Catholic Courier

Canandaigua clinic serves working poor

Canandaigua’s working poor without medical insurance now have a new place to seek medical care. Canandaigua Churches in Action — which includes St. Mary Parish — and Thompson Health recently partnered with Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes and Excellus BlueCross BlueShield to open the Thompson Clinic at CCIA, which is located at 120 N. Main St.

The clinic helps the uninsured and underinsured in the Canandaigua area who are seeking medical treatment and services but whose conditions are not urgent and don’t require x-rays or other laboratory work. The clinic opened in mid-July after Thompson Health hired a family nurse practitioner and a medical assistant.

"It’s up and running. It’s doing well," said Stephen Uebbing, CCIA project chairperson. "It’s a unique solution in Canandaigua. It’s not going to work everywhere, but it’s unique in Canandaigua."

The site of Thompson Clinic at CCIA also is the site of the original Thompson Hospital, founded by Mary Clark Thompson, said Anne Johnston, marketing coordinator for Thompson Health.

"It came full circle, and we’re continuing her legacy of caring," Johnston said.

"We are continuing Mary Clark Thompson’s legacy to the community, ensuring the continuation of care and increased access and services for patients," added Bonnie Ross, Thompson Health’s senior vice president for strategic initiatives. "Thompson Health is very interested in making sure that patients have access to health-care services. It’s our hope that (the clinic) will increase this access."

The other three partnering organizations share that hope, Uebbing said.

Canandaigua Churches in Action formed in 2006 when St. Mary and several other local congregations joined their social-ministry and outreach efforts to efficiently serve more people. They soon opened a food cupboard and a clothing bin at the group’s 120 N. Main St. headquarters, and Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes soon opened a satellite office there. CCIA leaders still felt there was more they could do, however.

"Soon after CCIA formed in 2006, we realized that we would have to go beyond food pantries and clothing bins. Health care is often the most critical need faced by the poor and working poor, which is why we focused on finding primary care for this population," Uebbing said.

In August 2008 the New York State Department of Health approved Thompson Health’s request to open an extension clinic at the site. Next came site renovations, financed by a grant obtained by Sen. Dale M. Volker, R-Depew, and another from Excellus.

"Excellus BCBS is supporting the new clinic because it will help many people who are uninsured or underinsured in the Canandaigua area receive preventative care or get treatment for conditions that aren’t necessarily emergencies. It is a quality-of-life issue for both the individual person and our community," said Dr. Martin Lustick, Excellus’ senior vice president and corporate medical director.

Ellen Wayne, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes, said her organization also is glad to be involved in the new initiative.

"Catholic Charities has long been focused on meeting the immediate needs of individuals and families. With this initiative we are joining forces with a dedicated and skilled group of partners to extend our impact to some of the most vulnerable individuals in this community," Wayne said.

The clinic’s target demographic is the uninsured and the working poor who can’t afford health insurance, but no one will be turned away, Uebbing said. However, the new clinic should not be viewed as a substitute for an ongoing relationship with a physician, he noted.

"The clinic is a clinic. It’s not intended to be your medical home," he said. "We’re not there to do the long-term monitoring of coronary disease. We’re there to deal with your immediate needs and try to find an effective way to deal with those needs in the long run."

It’s important to note, he added, that the health care is provided by Thompson Health, not CCIA. Thompson Health takes care of the health care and medical information, while CCIA provides access to that health care and provides billing support. The coalition of churches reviews clients’ financial status and can provide financial assistance on a case-by-case basis, he said.

Project leaders hope the clinic will be able to offer dental services by this time next year, Uebbing said, and they hope to eventually add mental-health services to its offerings as well.

Community feedback about Thompson Clinic at CCIA has been positive thus far, he noted.

"People see a need and are supportive and want to know how they can help. There actually aren’t a lot of volunteer opportunities right now, but there will be in the future," Uebbing said.

The clinic currently is accepting financial support, however.

"This is a way people can choose to have a direct impact," he said.

EDITOR’S NOTE: To donate to the clinic, mail a check made out to CCIA Clinic to 120 N. Main St., Canandaigua, NY 14424.

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