Women’s Center creates emergency health fund

by Leslie Bek

Filling gaps in service needs is an ongoing challenge for most nonprofit organizations. Each of these needs requires prioritization and a search for resources to implement solutions.
1409_health_teeth_mchd_logoThe Marquette Women’s Center works to empower individuals and families experiencing domestic and/or sexual violence by providing 24/7 access to emergency intervention services, crisis intervention, individual and support group counseling, supportive advocacy, information and referral, and the safe haven of shelter at Harbor House.
That listing alone generates countless challenges for supporting the unique needs of very vulnerable and at-risk members of our community.
Individuals seeking services at the Women’s Center and Harbor House often are in need of medical care, mental health and substance abuse treatment and social and emotional support related to the trauma from the violence and crisis situation they are experiencing.
Similar to a triage activity at an accident scene, immediate and life-threatening needs are addressed first.
As needs are further assessed and plans for a pathway to safety and a healthier future are determined, a myriad of critical health indicators become evident.
Needed care includes chronic disease education for diabetes, asthma, arthritis, cancer and heart disease; mental health, social and emotional support; obesity and prenatal health assistance and un- or under-insured patients.
For individuals focused on basic survival from threatened and real physical violence for themselves and their children, preventive actions and health maintenance or compliance with prescribed lifestyle activity related to critical health indicators fall off the radar.
Or, in very real scenarios for those served by the Women’s Center and Harbor House, education and access to health and wellness care have been out of reach.
Consider the following examples: lack of access to health care; no case management; long-term chronic disease untreated; acute needs due to lack of access to vision and dental treatment or prescription medication; substance abuse in various forms and pregnancies without prenatal care.
With the help of local foundations like the Western Marquette County Health Foundation, the Women’s Center and Harbor House can provide vital assistance needed for survivors to access emergency health care.
The WMCHF, previously known as the Bell Hospital Foundation, is located at 910 U.S.-41 West in Ishpeming, inside the Greater Ishpeming-Negaunee Area Chamber of Commerce building.
The foundation was created upon the completion of the sale of Bell Hospital. Funds from the sale were given to the foundation, which is dedicated to providing funding for health and wellness solutions to the communities of western Marquette County.
The philosophy of WMCHF is dedication to providing funding for health and wellness solutions for communities within western Marquette County. This includes, but is not limited to, programs addressing critical health indicators of the region.
Women’s Center and Harbor House, through its programs, served more than 2,400 community members in the past year, with twenty percent of survivors served from the western end of Marquette County.
Resources from the WMCHF have been pledged over a three-year period to assist the Women’s Center in establishing an emergency health fund. Priorities of the fund are:
• Emergency care—the emergent needs survivors present; including medical care for injuries sustained during domestic or sexual violence assaults, long-term unmet medical care for illness and disease, emergency doctor’s appointments and insurance co-pays.
• Prescriptions—the emergent need of sustained lack of access to prescription medication and associated complications.
• Mental health/substance abuse assessment and access to intensive outpatient care—emergent needs in these critical areas often have been diagnosed as co-occurring disorders when the combination of mental health and substance abuse are included in the diagnosis.
According to Women’s Center director Phyllis Loonsfoot, “Each of these three categories relates to specific needs that survivors present when accessing the safe haven of shelter at Harbor House and our outreach program services. We are the front line service providers and have a unique opportunity to assess the immediate and longer term medical needs of survivors and help them to access the health care they need.”
The establishment of the emergency health fund will help ensure both acute and chronic unmet medical needs for survivors and their children will be addressed.
Case management outcomes will include pursuing collaborations with local pharmacies and medical professionals for cost savings, as well as tracking the state of Michigan’s implementation of Medicaid expansion to help fill in gaps in medical funding.
The ultimate goal is to enhance likelihood that health care needs of survivors transition from emergent needs to access to supportive services that promote prevention and maintaining healthy lifestyles.
For more information about Women’s Center programs and services call 225-1346; Harbor House emergency shelter 24/7 hotline at 226-6611 or (800) 455-6611; or visit wcmqt.weebly.com
For more information about WMCHF call 204-2395.
— Leslie Bek

Author’s note: All services of the Women’s Center are confidential and provided at no cost to survivors and their families. Approximately thirty percent of the Women’s Center’s annual funds must be raised from local resources such as its Pak Ratz resale shop, foundations, individuals, businesses, clubs and organizations, the United Way of Marquette County and the Evening of Elegance event, sponsored by the Board of Directors and friends of the Women’s Center.
(See the printed edition – page 8 of MM September City Notes for more on Evening of Elegance.)

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