By Paul S. Homick
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Mercy Health Foundation Mahoning Valley invested more than $3 million in community health programs last year, and those programs will continue to be the main funding priority in 2024.
The No. 1 unmet health need in Ohio is dental care, according to the state health department. That’s especially true in the Mahoning Valley. Under the leadership of Dr. Frank Beck and the board of the Mercy Health Foundation Mahoning Valley, hundreds of thousands of dollars were invested in the community to meet this need. That includes the Safety Net Dental Clinic at St. Elizabeth Youngstown hospital as well as three mobile dental units.
The mobile units bring dental serv- ices directly to those in need in the tri-county area. They go to schools, community centers, geriatric facilities, and rural areas where the underserved population can be cared for immediately.
The program serves a dual purpose as it also gives dental residents hands-on experience in treating the most vulnerable among us. Dr. Beck also serves as board chairman for the Mercy Health Foundation Mahoning Valley.
Another project that the MHFMV is strongly supporting is behavioral health. The opioid crisis falls under that umbrella.
Overdose deaths are the leading cause of death of Americans under the age of 50, and the crisis has hit the Mahoning Valley particularly hard.
Mercy Health Youngstown is one of the leaders in the state in opioid initiatives designed to combat the problem. Our efforts are now focusing on support and education for clients in our Substance Use Disorder Outpatient program as well as training for hospital staff, residents and the community in general.
The MHFMV also partners with the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board to fund the Peer Recovery Coach program, which pairs the client with a coach who is versed in all stages of recovery.
Our Prescription Assistance program provides more than 3,000 low-income patients in the community life-saving maintenance medications for diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and other conditions.
Donors are critical in keeping these programs going, and we are grateful to them.
Our Prescription Assistance program generated over $5 million in free or reduced cost prescriptions to those who are most vulnerable.
Moving forward in 2024, the MHFMV will make strong efforts to identify and prevent human trafficking, advance anti-violence initiatives as well as build up the nursing programs and services that make health care more accessible and enable our community to live in a healthier way.
Demand for our services and programs will only increase.
We rely on several partner organizations, such as YNDC, Action, the Mahoning and Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery boards, and others to help us address the most pressing health needs of the community.
We also rely on donors from our community who support these health and wellness initiatives, and we cannot thank them enough.
All of our initiatives reflect our mission: To extend the compassionate ministry of Jesus by improving the health and well-being of our communities and bring good help to those in need, especially people who are poor, dying and underserved.