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.