AMITA Health’s Mission at Home program recently expanded to Glendale Heights, Illinois, with a two-day clinic where nearly 150 AMITA Health volunteers provided free medical care and other services to 218 underserved community members.
Patients received health screenings, primary care, specialty care, flu shots and counseling during the Sept. 12-13 event at the Sports Hub, just minutes from AMITA Health Adventist Medical Center GlenOaks. AMITA Health’s spiritual care and social services teams connected patients to community health resources, children received free school supplies and face masks, and every family left with a large box of food from the Northern Illinois Food Bank.
Associates and physicians from every ministry across AMITA Health volunteered at the clinic, including 16 providers representing primary care, orthopedics, pediatrics, dermatology and podiatry.
“By making wholistic care more accessible to the underserved, our volunteers put into action our faith-based mission while furthering our AMITA Forward strategic plan,” said Dave de Ramos, DO, an AMITA Health Adventist Medical Center GlenOaks family practitioner who volunteered at the clinic. The AMITA Forward plan identifies wholistic, accessible and accountable as AMITA Health’s three primary strategic paths in the years ahead.
He and Heather Hoffman, AMITA Health regional director of clinical mission integration, led and organized the clinic, with support from the Village of Glendale Heights and Mark Bondarenko, executive sponsor for the clinic and senior director of spiritual care for AMITA Health’s four legacy Seventh-day Adventist hospitals.
Karen Moore, RNC-OB, director of women and infant services at AMITA Health Alexian Brothers Medical Center Elk Grove Village; Nina Smith, associate operations manager for The Resource Group at AMITA Health Adventist Medical Center Bolingbrook; and Karen Munter, manager of clinical operations for the oncology service line at the AMITA Health Cancer Institute at Alexian Brothers, worked together to procure, organize and distribute supplies for the clinic.
“I saw many acts of kindness and appreciation between our providers and participants,” Moore said. “Everyone was given the time they needed to explain their issues and get treated.”
Smith added, “It was exciting to support our mission and to meet others with the same mission.”
Keith Parrott, AMITA Health president and chief executive officer, toured the clinic with his wife, Kristy, on Sept. 12 and later wrote in his Sept. 18 weekly message that he had heard many stories about the clinic’s impact. He cited the case of a 12-year-old girl who came to the clinic unable to run and play due to severe foot pain. Alex McKanna, DPM, a podiatrist, told the girl’s mother to visit his office for X-rays and free follow-up care.
“The mom was in tears,” Parrott wrote, “and they were in his office four days later and are working on a plan for surgery and treatment.”
Parrott wrote that he was “humbled by the selfless attitudes of so many of our associates, people who give of themselves all week by caring for others and then donate their free time to continue to serve. …. When we work toward health equity by being intentional about our mission, we can truly make a difference.”
AMITA Health previously sponsored a pair of Mission at Home clinics in Harvey, Illinois, a poor community just south of Chicago. After participating in an AMITA Health medical mission trip to El Salvador and volunteering in Harvey, de Ramos came up with the idea for bringing Mission at Home to Glendale Heights.
“I wanted to provide a medical mission for the underserved in our own community,” said de Ramos, who has worked at AMITA Health Adventist Medical Center GlenOaks for more than 30 years. “I wanted to connect them with community resources to support their physical, mental and spiritual health and well-being on an ongoing basis.”
Previous mission experiences inspired Moore and Smith to volunteer at the Glendale Heights clinic. Moore participated in AMITA Health medical mission trips to the Dominican Republic in 2017 and to El Salvador in 2018 and 2019, as well as the Mission at Home clinics in Harvey in 2018 and 2019. Smith volunteered at the 2019 clinic in Harvey.
“I always have been interested in the missions abroad but never was able to join them,” said Smith, who handed out goodie bags with various supplies and distributed free food to patients at the Glendale Heights clinic. “That’s why I was excited to join Mission at Home. My experience at the Harvey clinic last year hit hard for me, and I knew then what my mission was moving forward.”
Reflecting on the latest clinic after it ended, Moore said she felt “re-energized for the next mission clinic, knowing that I had made a difference in the lives of others. And for that, I’m grateful.”