A Quest for Better Health

Jan. 20-26, 2005
VOL 124 NO. 2
A Quest for Better Health
By Claudia Mathis/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
The health of many people in the Diocese of Syracuse will be affected positively as a result of a monetary award from Fidelis Care’s Diocesan Grant Fund. A number of programs and services within the diocese were awarded a total of $137,000. “The Fidelis Care Diocesan Grant Fund will help the Diocese of Syracuse assist many people in need,” said Mark L. Lane, president and chief executive officer at Fidelis Care. “Fidelis Care is pleased to support such worthwhile programs and services that improve health, enhance access to care and services and provide adequate nutrition for many people within the diocese.”

The newly established fund created by Fidelis Care – the New York State Catholic Health Plan – supports the efforts of organizations providing assistance to the neediest of society. The grants were selected and approved by Bishop James M. Moynihan. “We are grateful for the new Fidelis Care Grant Fund as it will enable six Catholic organizations to provide much needed services and education to the poor and our underserved children and young people here in our own diocese,” said Bishop Moynihan.

Father James Carey was elated when he heard that $5,000 had been awarded to the Health Ministry of the Diocese of Syracuse. He is the director of the Health Ministry program. His program provides spiritual and pastoral care for sick and dying Catholic patients in acute and long-term healthcare facilities. Father Carey applied for the grant last spring after hearing about the fund from Dennis Manning, diocesan director of Catholic Charities. Father Carey applied for the funding because he saw a need for an improvement in the training certification program for health chaplains. A training certification program for the chaplains was held two years ago and it was very successful. He felt he needed to bring the program to a higher level. He envisions using the grant money in multiple ways but feels that improving the training program is the most important. He anticipates that approximately 35 people will be required to participate in the training and many more will be interested in it.

Father Carey explained that certification for hospital ministry has become more demanding. Joint Commission Accreditation for Healthcare Organizations oversees all healthcare institutions in New York. The organization offers guidelines and demands certification for hospital chaplains. The funding will provide an opportunity to educate personnel in health ministry. “We’re very grateful to have this opportunity,” said Father Carey.

Jane Coddington, executive director of Chenango County Catholic Charities, was very pleased after hearing that Catholic Charities’ Good Health through Nutrition Project was awarded $15,000 to purchase nutritious food to be given out to people who cannot afford it. The funding will help Catholic Charities provide more than 107,000 pounds of additional food for needy people living in Broome, Chenango, Cortland, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga and Oswego Counties. The project’s goal is for the individuals served to achieve and maintain good health through access to an adequate amount of nutritious food. “The poor have a hard time getting nutritious food,” said Coddington. “We’re able to provide access to fruits and vegetables. We’re all very excited and thrilled that we were given this funding. It was a recognition of the link between good health and nutrition.”

They applied for the grant because Catholic Charities cannot keep up with the demand for food. The Roots and Wings Program in Chenango County consists of two levels of direct service to the needy. Food pantry worker Sylvia Walker was happy when she heard about the grant. “I’m super excited,” said Walker. ”We’ve struggled for the last six months. We’ve depended on private donations for our food.” The first level of the program entails providing food, clothing, household goods, cleaning products and furniture to the needy. The second level provides assistance to the needy to become self-sufficient. Because the project lost Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds form the federal government a few years ago, the grant money was sorely needed.

Catholic Charities in Onondaga County received $35,000 from the Fidelis Care funds. Brian Walton, executive director of Catholic Charities in Onondaga County, explained that the money will be used to provide uninsured individuals and families with a facilitated enroller to assist them in completing applications for Child Health Plus, Family Health Plus and Medicaid coverage. More than one million of the three million uninsured New Yorkers remain uninsured in large part because of the difficulty of enrolling and staying in these programs. The outreach program will start on April 1, when the newly hired outreach worker will go out into the community to assist people in signing up for health insurance. “I’m deeply appreciative of the fact that we are going to go into the community,” said Walton. “We are going to make a significant difference in people’s lives. We are now able to get people connected with health insurance so they can get their medical needs taken care of.”

The Diocesan Respect Life Office received a grant of $32,000 to develop and implement a program that promotes abstinence until marriage. The program emphasizes the benefits of a healthy physical, spiritual and intellectual lifestyle in an attempt to reduce teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Director Cindy Falise is very pleased with the opportunity that she has been given to implement the new abstinence program. “I’m excited,” said Falise. “We’ve wanted to do this for a long time, and it truly fits with the Fedelis Care mission to advocate for health that accords true dignity and respect for all human persons.”’ Recently hired abstinence educator Sharon Flanagan will help meet this goal. Flanagan comes well qualified for the position. She was the Respect Life Chairperson and a sixth and eighth grade religious education teacher at St. Joseph the Worker Church in Liverpool. She also holds a Continuous Learning Certificate in Religious Studies from Le Moyne College.

This program will focus on ninth grade Catholic school students and will reinforce the skills already taught by parents, teachers and youth ministers that sexual intimacy is meant to be practiced within the context of marriage. Additional students include youth who are in the formation process of confirmation and those who are in religious education programs. The diocese wants to invest in teens with education promoting the sacrament of marriage. Teens will come to understand that the reward of delaying sexual intimacy until marriage frees them to focus on gaining the education, experience and opportunities that promote wellness through a healthy lifestlye, promote abstinence until marriage, and reduce teen pregnancy and STDs. Flanagan is looking forward to her new duties as an abstinence educator. “This is a wonderful opportunity to talk to the Catholic youth about abstinence,” said Flanagan. “The youth hear other things in the world. They need to know what God’s plan is for sex and marriage.”

Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton received a grant of $35,000 from Fidelis Care’s Diocesan Grant Fund. The Dental Access to Care Project will work to improve the health of children and their families by providing dental services to low-income and underserved areas. The award will be used to purchase dental equipment for a mobile van that will provide dental services to the school children in Broome County. The mobile unit will house a full time dental staff. In anticipation of serving at least 1,000 children, it will be up and running by the beginning of the next school year. As part of the Dental Access to Care Project, the Lourdes Center for Oral Health has been under construction for two years and is scheduled to open in one week. It will provide access to dental services for needy children and their families who are unable to access dental services in a private dentist’s office. The center will be the hub of dental services for the needy. It will house six dental treatment rooms, with two dentists, two dental hygienists and two receptionists. Program manager Lucy Hiffner is very excited about receiving the funds. “There is a direct connection between dental health and physical health,” said Hiffner. “There is a tremendous need for the needy to have access to good dental care.”

St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center received a grant of $15,000 to assist in the expansion of its office to meet the growing demand for adequate dental care for poor and underserved children and adults. The expansion will allow for a 33 percent increase in patient visits annually. “We are taking care of a very large underserved population,” said program director Dr. Richard Mayne. “Our intent is to expand our facility and treat more people.”

Housed on the seventh floor of the Physician’s Office Building, the dental center holds seven dental chairs and a staff of four dental residents and two dental hygienists. There are also more than 60 teaching assistants on staff. It is a teaching facility with an educational program designed to help dental residents coming out of dental school increase their skills. Mayne explained that one year of practice in residency is equivalent to five years of practice in private practice. The program has been in existence since 1975. Mayne hopes to purchase at least one more dental chair and a light unit for the facility. He’s very pleased about receiving the grant money. “It’s absolutely wonderful,” said Mayne. “We’re always excited about anything we can do to expand our services.” The grants will enable the diocese to continue its work to promote quality healthcare for all people.

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