For the second year in a row, Ascension Healthcare, Via Christi Health, Wichita State University and the city of Wichita partnered to host Medical Mission at Home — an event that offers spiritually centered health care to the underserved in the Wichita community.
The event, which took place 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 14, drew in more than 900 volunteers, including some from the Newman community.
From patient registration to medical care, volunteers worked with community members in need, connecting them with numerous services in Wichita.
Michael Mullins, CEO of Via Christi and Newman board member, said, “There are some 40-plus organizations supporting this today, including Newman University. There is a huge contribution from WSU, a huge contribution from the city and Via Christi. The event today is just a collaboration of a whole community.”
Jane Weilert, associate dean of nursing and allied health, said Newman heard about the event through Via Christi connections.
“Dr. Carrocci mentioned it to me because we missed it last year. So we made sure we got connected this year, and we sent out a general email to everyone in the school to recruit volunteers,” said Weilert. “It’s a great way for the university to be involved in the community, especially when it comes to health care access. For my students, what I’m hoping they’re going to see, is a place in Wichita they’ve never been to before, as well as all the services that are available in the community — to get to see a patient one-on-one for an extended period of time, and to learn their story.”
Last year, the event was held outdoors at Fairmount Park. However, partnering with USD 259, organizers were able to hold the event at Mueller Aerospace and Engineering Discovery Magnet Elementary School.
Mullins said, “To be in partnership with USD 259, and getting to use this facility, we see it continuing to grow. There is a real energy and excitement from people who want to help and serve. That’s what it’s all about.”
Associate Professor of Nursing Amy Siple was excited to be one of the volunteers. She said the connection they made with the patients went beyond physical health.
“One of the clients we just saw, she just opened up to us about some personal struggles that she’s been going through,” explained Siple on the morning of the event. “We were able to reach not just her medical needs, but also at an emotional and spiritual level and just let her know that people care about her. I think she really feels alone in this world, and we were able to connect her to resources and let her know that she doesn’t have to do life alone.”
Patients who attended Medical Mission at Home were seen for ailments from pain and prescription help to wound care.
“Services are based on what the patient is coming in for,” said Siple. “That could be addressing hypertension, high cholesterol, the different pain they may be in, or medication they may need refills for. Also wounds, rashes — anything and everything you would see in a minor emergency setting.”
Working alongside Siple was Wichita State student Bridgette Hull, who is currently a registered nurse at Wesley Medical Center.
“I’m working on obtaining a Doctor of Nursing,” Hull said. “Being here today, working with patients in this setting, it’s a great way to learn more, and it feels great to be helping our community members.”
Getting the word out to the community was an event in itself, with more than 8,000 handbills delivered.
“There is a huge effort to get the word out,” said Peg Tichacek, mission integration leader for Via Christi. “Extra efforts were made to target the surrounding neighborhoods because it’s an area in which there is a great need. Working with area churches and neighborhood associations, and also using social media, we were able to do that.
“This is one of our mission outreaches, and for us, it’s about our identity as a Catholic ministry yet collaborating with the community, and really we are interested, too, in the student aspect of this because they are our future. And as they understand how we live our mission and reach out in service, that’s what we’re all about.”
Bishop Carl A. Kemme was happy to tour while the event was in progress.
“We have a great partnership with Ascension Via Christi, and when I learned about this last year, I wasn’t able to be here,” explained Bishop Kemme. “So this year I wanted to see it for myself. Just to see it myself and the wonderful collaboration of so many organizations in the community, and to get good health care and service to our community members in need, I’m very inspired by this.”
The Very Rev. John P. Lanzrath was involved in this and last year’s event.
Lanzrath emphasized the importance of future health care providers to be involved in events such as Medical Mission at Home.
“When we look at the idea of how do we promote young people in health care, I’m excited about the young people in our community being involved here,” he said. “To be able to reach out along with Via Christi, to bring Christ’s love and care for the people who may not be able to afford health care, to me is really living the work of mercy. Truly this is a great blessing. To see 900 people to come here on a Saturday — so many of them young people — to give of their time, there’s a great energy and enthusiasm among our youth. I see that as a blessing — I see that at Newman and I see that here (at Medical Mission at Home) today. It’s such a great gift.”