Mercy Foundation Awards $6.4 Million to Fund Health Care

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Record-setting fundraising last year at Mercy Health Foundation Mahoning Valley laid the groundwork for 2019 as it advances health care and improves access through programs that target the specific needs of residents.

Panerathon 2018, presented by Covelli Enterprises, raised a record $515,000 for the Joanie Abdu Comprehensive Breast Care Center and Joanie’s Promise, the fund that ensures any resident in need of breast diagnostic services has access to the best care available regardless of ability to pay.

This is $77,000 more than was raised by Panerathon 2017 and will help to ensure that the reach of services continues to expand, says Paul Homick Jr., president of the foundation. Over the past nine years, the annual event has raised more than $2.5 million in support of the Abdu Center.

“Providing free cancer screenings, access to diagnostic testing and care remain at the forefront of Mercy Health Foundation’s mission because of the higher-than-average cancer rates in our Valley,” Homick says.

In all, Mercy Health Foundation provided more than $6.4 million in 2018 in support of programs that improve the health of our communities.

Some $1.1 million of that is dedicated to addressing the opioid crisis. Among the projects the foundation supports is a peer recovery coach program and Neil Kennedy Recovery Centers’ 16-bed detox unit at St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital. The detox unit opened in September and provides inpatient beds for individuals in active withdrawal from drug and alcohol abuse. The peer recovery program stations coaches in emergency rooms to serve as an immediate resource for patients suffering from overdose or other substance-abuse issues.

The foundation provided nearly $2.3 million in 2018 to combat the region’s infant mortality crisis through programs that help at-risk families receive care. The Resource Mothers program pairs young, first-time mothers with an experienced woman who is trained to serve as a guide throughout her pregnancy until her baby’s first birthday, making regular home visits to check on their progress.

Centering Pregnancy brings women with comparable due dates together for group appointments with a health care provider. These group appointments, which are in addition to the women’s one-on-one appointments with their physicians, expand on topics women discuss with their doctors.

And a new fatherhood support program was introduced in 2018. It helps new and soon-to-be fathers learn how to best care for their children.

Because so many people in the Mahoning Valley struggle to obtain and pay for their prescriptions, Mercy Health Foundation Mahoning Valley embarked on an ambitious project in 2017 to establish ambulatory pharmacies at St. Elizabeth Youngstown, St. Joseph Warren and St. Elizabeth Boardman hospitals and to introduce a meds-to-beds program for inpatients at all three hospitals.

Known as the Sister Margaret Mary Siegfried Pharmacy project, that $600,000 campaign “is wrapping up,” Homick says. “We expect to raise the final $150,000 early this year.”

The pharmacies are open and the meds-to-beds program, which provides one month’s supply of prescription medications to hospital patients who choose to take part upon discharge, is available at all three hospitals regardless of ability to pay.

Mercy Health Foundation Mahoning Valley also recognizes the need to invest in the next generation of health-care providers. In keeping with that, the foundation awarded more than $87,000 in scholarships to 47 nursing students.

“In addition to these accomplishments, we completed a chapel renovation project at St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital, secured funding for a $400,000 dental van that should be on the road this summer, and supported many other worthy programs,” Homick says.

“This year, our goals are even more ambitious as we continue to address the specific needs of our community. With the closing of Northside Regional Medical Center and the expected closures of several area employers, we anticipate that the role we serve as the philanthropic arm of Mercy Health will be even more important.”

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.