Look at future of Fourth Street Health Center

STEUBENVILLE – Ann Quillen knew fundraising was an important part of her job when she was hired in 2008 as the executive director of the Jefferson County Fourth Street Health Center.

“I asked myself how I was going to get people excited about giving money to help others who are in need of medical care. It has been an important issue every year because we have approximately 2,000 patients who are either uninsured or underserved. And fortunately we have seen the strong support from the community who buys a ticket for the annual gala or who donates to the health center every year,” said Quillen.

But, said Quillen, ticket sales while strong this year, are down from last year.

“Our mission statement calls for us to provide quality health care to the uninsured and underserved of Jefferson County. The Affordable Care Act is nice in theory but our experience is there are patients who can’t afford insurance under the affordable act. We are not losing patients to the Affordable Care Act. We won’t see the effects of the federal law until it becomes too painful for people to buy out of the insurance,” observed Quillen.

“We do see more patients getting expanded Medicaid and I’m happy for them because those patients can get more special care. But there is a problem for those patients because they either can find a primary care physician who will accept Medicaid patients or they have to wait months for an appointment. If you can’t find a doctor in a reasonable amount of time you are underserved. So we serve as a primary care provider and assist the patient with a referral to specialist care. That is the gift of being a free clinic. It allows us to evolve to the needs of our community,” Quillen remarked.

According to Quillen, the average patient at the health center is, “a Caucasian woman, mid 50s and suffering from at least one chronic ailment. She works full time or part time or has a spouse working but they are not offered health care coverage. That is who we serve every day at the health center. It is a ministry that we embrace,” said Quillen.

“That is why the annual gala is so important. The funds we raise from our gala every year and the donations made to the health center help us to serve the people in need in Jefferson County. There is always going to be a need for a free clinic. There will always be folks with no access to health care and we are here for them,” Quillen said.

Tickets for the annual Jefferson County Fourth Street Health Center gala are available by calling (740) 283-2856, and Quillen said donations to the health center are welcome year-round.

“Our gala campaign goal this year is $140,000 because we had to move out of our original home on North Fourth Street because of a leaking roof. We were fortunate that Trinity (Medical Center) East had office space available for us but we also want to move back to a downtown location in conjunction with the Urban Mission Ministries. At the same time we are starting a dental clinic to provide free dental care to the uninsured and underserved residents. That makes our gala campaign even more important,” stressed Quillen.

The St. Florian Hall doors for the gala will open at 5 p.m., and the gala dinner starts at 6 p.m.

Trinity Health System will receive the 2014 humanitarian award, Dr. John Hyland will receive the medical honoree award, Bea Antol has been named the volunteer honoree, and the Peoples National Bank of Mount Pleasant will receive the community honoree award at the dinner.

The gala will feature a live auction and the sale of 600 mystery gifts, as well as Jody Glaub serving as master of ceremonies.

“I am encouraging and asking the community to show their support for this very special ministry and the Jefferson County Fourth Street Health Center. Join us for a delightful evening, support us financially and pray for those in need. We have made a difference in the lives of our patients and we want to continue to make a difference for the uninsured and the underserved residents of Jefferson County,” said Quillen.

(Gossett can be contacted at dgossett@heraldstaronline.com.)