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Ministries of Mercy at 1213 16th Street North, Saint Petersburg, FL 33705 US - Medical Care for the Less Fortunate

Provided By Ministries of Mercy - Health

Medical Care for the Less Fortunate

Sister Sara K. Proctor, program coordinator of Catholic Mobile Medical Services, helps Beverly Wesley, volunteer, put together gift bags for the patients.

In 2006, Bishop Robert N. Lynch of the Diocese of St. Petersburg began the Ministries of Mercy initiative to support and foster parish ministries that serve the poor, suffering, and marginalized. The initiative focuses on five areas where the need is the greatest: food & clothing, shelter, life, visitation, and health. The Ministries of Mercy are currently serving in various parishes and the following story highlights how Catholic Mobile Medical Services is providing medical care to people in need through to the health ministry.

Catholic Mobile Medical Services (CMMS) started ten years ago out of concern from Bishop Robert N. Lynch of the Diocese of St. Petersburg to address the medical needs of the migrant workers and their families in the rural poor areas of eastern and southern Hillsborough County. Advocates identified three issues which prevented the farm workers from getting basic health care: time, travel, and cost. To overcome those hurdles, CMMS began operating from a bus and traveled to locations easy for people to get to. It offered health services when health centers were closed and the services were free. “With the bishop’s support we went from a borrowed bus to own our bus and having two walk-in clinics,” said Sister Sara K. Proctor, coordinator of the program. “The Holy Spirit was very much at work.”

More than 1500 patients received medical care or screenings from CMMS in 2007 and 2008. Sister Sarah credits the volunteers for the success of the program. “Without the volunteers, this would not be possible,” she said.

Physicians and other health and social service professionals volunteering with CMMS provide primary medical care; routine well woman exams; disease prevention; screenings for high blood pressure and diabetes; nutrition classes to learn to cook healthy foods and read food labels; salsa classes to help with weight problems; and work physicals.

“I added work physicals to our list of services because they help people get jobs,” Sister Sara said. Additionally, the CMMS bus-based services include Pregnancy Plus Medical and Support Services – confidential, comprehensive services to adolescents, women and families facing the issues of sexuality, pregnancy and parenting responsibilities. The bus makes regular visits to Bethel Mission in Wimauma, San Jose Mission in Dover, Good Samaritan Mission in Balm, and Our Lady of Guadalupe in Wimauma.

Sister Sara said that CMMS mostly sees people with colds, rashes, and headaches. However, there are exceptions like the time when a young man visited the clinic at San Jose Mission and the doctor told him he needed to be in the hospital because of kidney failure. In addition, there was a case when one of the doctors discovered a heart murmur on a young patient during a routine visit. The mom told the doctor she knew about the heart murmur, but did not have the resources to get additional screenings. Sister Sara and the doctor worked with a pediatric cardiologist to get the patient into surgery and today the patient is healthy. “These stories are not frequent, we mostly see people with colds, rashes, and headaches, but if we were not here to treat the small aches and pains, we would not see the life threatening illnesses,” Sister Sara said.

To read about other health ministries, the Ministries of Mercy, and to find a ministry near you in need of donations and volunteers, click here. To volunteer or make donations to CMMS contact Sister Sarah at (813) 707-7376 or (813) 645-1714.



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