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May Dugan : Innovation + Job News

2 May Dugan Articles | Page:

Basic Health program offers multiple services to Cleveland's underserved

The nonprofit May Dugan Center has been addressing the basic needs of low income West Side residents for 70 years. New times create new necessities, to which the center has continued to answer the call, proponents say.
 
May Dugan's Basic Health program is a multi-faceted effort offering screenings and medical guidance for Cleveland's underserved and uninsured. These benefits are intertwined with ongoing food and clothing distribution and support services the nonprofit is already providing.
 
Each month during its food and clothing program, the center, in collaboration with St. Vincent Charity Hospital, gives check-ups on blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels to visiting clientele. Nurses on hand answer questions about medication interactions and other health topics, while podiatry residents consult with visitors about proper foot care.
 
In 2015, May Dugan performed 802 screenings on 200-250 returning individuals, says May Dugan deputy director Andy Trares.
 
"Forming relationships with a primary care physician is important to stay on top of your health," says Trares. "For many of our folks that come in, the screenings are the strongest relationship they have with a healthcare provider."
 
Some clients use the free service as a supplement to care from their general practitioner.
 
"We had a woman with high blood pressure who realized there was something wrong with her medication," Trares says. "We called her doctor and made the change right there."
 
Assistance with insurance applications is another program perk. As Healthcare Insurance Marketplace season approaches, certified application counselors will guide participants through what is often a confusing process. Meanwhile, insurance workshops will be led at May Dugan's facility at 4115 Bridge Ave. by a health and wellness coordinator.
 
The newest program under the Basic Health umbrella, meanwhile, invites senior citizens to drop into the center twice weekly for art and music therapy sessions, nutrition classes and free meals. Launched last year, the venture has brought 1,400 hours of socialization to 35 attendees.
 
Trares expects Basic Health's robust programming to continue into 2017, with help from foundational partners such as the Thatcher Family Fund as well as The Music Settlement, the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging and other organizations giving their time for a much-needed service.
 
"We have clients picking up food and getting their health screenings on the same day," says Trares. "(Basic Health) looks at people holistically through issues that are tied together like food security, health and housing." 

This story is one of a Fresh Water series supported in part by the May Dugan Center.

MomsFirst lends a much needed hand to pregnant area teens

It is a sobering statistic: African-American infants in Ohio die at more than twice the rate of white babies, according to 2014 data from the Ohio Department of Health. To battle that troubling number, the Cleveland nonprofit MomsFirst program offers critical support services and education to the area's pregnant and parenting population in an effort to reduce these potentially lethal outcomes.
 
In Cleveland, younger parents often need the most aid, says Lisa Matthews, program director for an organization recognizing its 25th anniversary. Last year, one-third of 1,823 mothers reached by MomsFirst were teenagers, some as young as 13.
 
Narrowing the disparity in infant mortality rates is the group's overall goal. Program participants, many of whom are students at the Cleveland Municipal School District (CMSD), receive individual service plans that screen them for postnatal depression and educate them on prenatal care, breastfeeding and safe sleep practices.
 
Community health workers visit new or expecting moms at home at least once a month, providing them with a much needed support system.
 
"It's like having the big sister or mother they never had," says Matthews.
 
Families stay enrolled in the program until their child is two years old. Finding underserved mothers quickly is vital considering the three leading causes of infant mortality - prematurity/pre-term births, sleep-related deaths and birth defects - usually take place before a child reaches its first year, Matthews says.
 
Infant death rates in African-American communities may derive from poverty and other environmental or social stressors. MomsFirst, on site at the nonprofit May Dugan Center in Ohio City, considers these factors in its implementation of fatherhood support services and educational programming.
 
In addition to its support of teenage mothers, MomsFirst sponsors teen-led summits and peer advisory sessions at eight CMSD schools. Boys and non-pregnant or parenting students are welcome at the sessions, which cover topics like family planning, child development and STD prevention.
 
For girls still in high school, pregnancy can curtail, if not outright eliminate, continuing education. To that end, MomsFirst helps its charges navigate day care, transportation, literacy issues and other barriers.
 
"Pregnancy doesn't have to mean the end of an educational career," says Matthews.
 
Juvenile detention centers are the nonprofit's newest venture. Pregnant offenders are given case plans, while those with and without children are provided with  educational support. In combination, the services provided by MomsFirst can lift up a population in dire need of help, organization officials say.
 
"We still have a disparity that's unacceptable," Matthews says. "There is a long way to go."
 
This story is one of a Fresh Water series supported in part by the May Dugan Center.
2 May Dugan Articles | Page:
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