Organization expands services for a population in need
March 4, 2006
Since its opening in April of 2000, the People’s Health Clinic has provided medical services for uninsured Parkites.
In recent years, the nonprofit has provided two clinics every week, one on Monday evenings for general health issues and another on Wednesday nights for prenatal care. Demand, however, has led the organization to expand its clinic lineup. Now, the organization also offers a special Thursday night clinic for those who suffer from chronic health problems.
"We’re seeing a lot more diabetes and a lot of hypertension," said Mary Ellen Desresier, the director of clinics with the People’s Health Clinic.
The increase in chronic health problems is especially prevalent in Park City’s Latino community she noted. A significant portion of the health clinic’s clientele, Desresier said the increase in chronic health problems among Latinos is likely a result of their aging within the community.
"We’re getting to a generational thing now," she said.
So the health clinic has begun to respond to that group’s needs.
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"We started getting funding for it last year and we’re just seeing a tremendous increase in cases," said Shelley Weiss, the executive director of the People’s Health Clinic.
"We’ve talked about it for at least half a year, maybe longer," said Desresier. "It’s just starting now."
The new clinics will not only help the sufferers of chronic health problems, but they will also help alleviate the demand on the regular Monday night clinics.
"We started looking at a way we could consolidate the patients into a time where we could see them regularly," Weiss added.
The Thursday night clinics give the organization a chance to see the patients weekly and provide them with the care and educational help they need.
"There are things that people can do to help themselves," Weiss noted. "We really encourage people to look at themselves and see what they can do for themselves."
"It will be about self-help, self-care," Desresier added.
She said that, if possible, those who need treatment from the clinics should call the People’s Health Clinic between 1 and 4 p.m. on Thursdays to make an appointment, although the clinic will accept anyone in need of care.
Desresier also said that anyone interested in volunteering should call her. While the new clinics have funding, they are run like the rest of the organization’s clinics exclusively by volunteers.
"I need volunteers in all capacities," she said.
Eleven people from doctors, nurses and medics to waiting-room and desk attendants are needed to run the clinic each night, and with the addition of the new clinics, the People’s Health Clinic is offering at least 12 evenings of service each month.
Weiss said the overall number of patients has increased as well, and rather dramatically. In 2001, she noted, the organization served 891 patients; in 2005, it served 2,253.
With the significant number of Latinos served by the clinic, she said the increase in chronic health problems is expected.
"The numbers have really increased," she said, "and it’s no mystery to anyone that diabetes and hypertension are an epidemic in this country, and they hit minorities particularly hard."
But, she noted, many of the serious problems faced by the sufferers of those diseases can be avoided. The clinics want to help people do that.
"We feel this is an effort to not only provide treatment, but also education," Weiss concluded.
For more information about how to visit the People’s Health Clinic or to volunteer for the organization, visit http://www.peopleshealthclinic.org or call 615-7822.