Grace Stoudt underwent a bi-lateral mastectomy 11 years ago, but because of a lack of health insurance, she hadn’t been to a doctor in five years. Yet it wasn’t concerns related to her cancer diagnosis that finally brought her to Mission of Mercy’s clinic at the Brethren in Christ Church in Harrisburg.
“I had been having some ear problems so I decided to try Mission of Mercy,” she recalls. During her exam, however, the Mission of Mercy medical team uncovered something more troubling than her ear pain: Grace had dangerously high blood pressure.
Before she left the clinic that day, Grace had received prescription medications to bring her blood pressure under control as well as orders for complete blood tests that would enable doctors to better assess her overall health, which is especially important for cancer survivors.
Each time Grace returns to Mission of Mercy for check-ups and monitoring, she is struck by the kindness and compassion of the medical staff and volunteers. “They are so caring and there is no judgment,” she said. “They don’t care what your situation is. They just want to take care of you.”
Tracy M. had terrible tooth pain that led to severe, debilitating migraines. She was uninsured and unable to work for almost a year. Not having the funds to go to a private dentist, she tried to take care of the problem herself, going though nearly an entire bottle of over-the-counter tooth pain medication a day. Her pain led to trouble with her equilibrium, she couldn’t bend over to do basic tasks around the house, including getting her daughter ready for school.
The situation became so bad that she had to leave her daughter in the care of her sister.
Then, Tracy heard about Mission of Mercy’s dental care. She arrived early to ensure she could be seen that day.
After her initial exam the dentist could tell she had a raging infection that prevented him from doing any extractions that day, so he gave her medications to clear up the infection and asked her to come back in 14 days. Tracy returned, and received the dental care she so desperately needed.
Tracy was so relieved and happy at being able to stand up straight again, and to wake up each day without a raging headache. Best of all, she’s happy to be able to care for her little girl again! Tracy has since found work as a nursing home assistant.
On a blustery, bone-chilling, December morning, nurse Glenda Fuller faithfully arrived for her volunteer duties at Mission of Mercy’s free clinic. Her smiling face and energetic persona masked the fact that that she just completed an overnight shift at the local hospital. It was a blessing that she had energy to spare as she was to experience a “Mission of Mercy miracle”.
As patients began arriving a young boy presented at the clinic in the arms of his father. Glenda recognized the boy as Bryan, the 11-year old that was seen a few months previously for an upper respiratory infection. But, this time was different. He was pale, unresponsive and had no energy to navigate on his own. Glenda triaged him immediately and he was then rushed on to the mobile, medical unit. Our chief medical director, Dr. Sullivan and a volunteer physician from the emergency room of the local hospital, jumped into action. They collectively determined that Bryan was in dire need of hospitalization and might possibly have leukemia.
The volunteer hospital emergency room physician, dialed Children’s Hospital in D.C. and called upon the expertise of one of his colleagues. He explained Bryan’s symptoms, adding that he had no insurance and was not fluent in English. His colleague suggested getting Bryan to Children’s Hospital as soon as possible. To expedite the process, Glenda, who also spoke the family’s language, agreed to transport Bryan and his father in her own vehicle. The emergency room physician quickly jotted down the directions (Glenda did not have a GPS), and off she went. Shortly into her drive she cracked her window, with the directions in hand and of course – out they flew! Frantically she called back to Mission of Mercy. As she was again receiving directions she was cut off by an ambulance. As she was recounting this experience the emergency room doctor says, “does the ambulance have a teddy bear on the back of it”? Checking she said, “it does”! The doctor responded by saying, “follow it, it is going to Children’s”. She did and they all arrived safely to be seen by the specialist who, after running tests, determined that Bryan did not have leukemia. But, another specialist, from NIH who was on rounds that day, determined that Bryan had aplastic anemia and accepted him into his study group! Bryan’s life was saved through the love, caring, compassion of Glenda and those physicians who “answered the call” to help a young boy who was gravely ill and disenfranchised.
So, on this cold, blistery December day our hearts were warmed by one of God’s miracles, Bryan’s healing through Mission of Mercy!
p.s. While Mission of Mercy generally provides free healthcare, dental care and prescription medications for adults with chronic health care issues occasionally we do see children.