Mercy Foundation Funds Care, Scholarships

Extending the reach of the Joanie Abdu Comprehensive Breast Care Center and opportunities for tomorrow’s nurses, nurse practitioners and physicians are priorities for Mercy Health Foundation Mahoning Valley in 2020, says Paul Homick, president. 

While the rate of breast cancer deaths in the Mahoning Valley continues to shrink, paralleling breast cancer mortality rates for the state, a greater percentage of women here continue to be diagnosed with late-stage disease. That’s according to the 2019 Mahoning County Cancer Profile published by the Ohio Department of Health. Despite this statistical trend, the Abdu Center has seen an increase in early detection, with a far greater percentage of its patients diagnosed in the early stage of disease, Homick says. 

He credits the role of community education and the development of a mobile mammography service line as critical tools in the advancement of early detection. The goal of the foundation, he notes, is to ensure that everyone in our community has access to the best care available, regardless of ability to pay.

To further that mission, Mercy Health Foundation MV will provide support for additional mammography satellite locations. The first satellite, inside Poland Imaging, opened in 2018. Satellite locations and mobile mammography make it easier for women in outlying communities to access care, Homick says. 

These services, and the Abdu Center itself, he stresses, are possible only because of the foundation’s donors. Among the most notable community efforts supporting the cause was Panerathon, which marked its 10th anniversary in 2019. Presented by Covelli Enterprises, Panerathon raised a record $525,000 in support of the Abdu Center and Joanie’s Promise fund. That’s an increase of $10,000 over Panerathon 2018 and brings the collective amount Panerathon has raised for the center to more than $3 million. 

These funds support a growing demand for breast care services, which have increased every year since the center opened in November 2011, and the mobile mammography service line launched in 2016. 

Mercy Health Foundation MV is also looking to provide additional support, in the form of scholarships, to the next generation of caregivers. The inaugural Dinah Fedyna Family Medicine Award for Primary Care was presented in June to a student at the Northeast Ohio Medical University, and is  from Trumbull County, who is planning a career as a family practitioner. The award honors Dr. Dinah Fedyna, a family physician and NEOMED instructor diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, in July 2018. The scholarship is available to NEOMED students from the Mahoning Valley who are planning careers in family medicine, pediatrics or internal medicine. 

“Ideally, we’d like to award two scholarships this year,” Homick says. To encourage support, the foundation is matching contributions dollar-for-dollar for the first $50,000 raised. “This not only demonstrates our respect for Dr. Fedyna, but our commitment to help the next generation, especially those pursuing careers, such as primary care, that are in high demand.”

The same holds true for nurses and nurse practitioners. Dr. Rashid Abdu, founder of the Joanie Abdu Comprehensive Breast Care Center, has endowed a nursing scholarship that will be awarded every year beginning with the 2020-2021 academic year. This is in addition to several nursing scholarships already available. 

In 2019, Mercy Health Foundation MV awarded a record $113,000 in scholarships to 63 area nursing students for the 2019-2020 academic year, up from $87,000 awarded to 47 nursing students the year before.

Since the nursing scholarship program was introduced in 1997, the number and value of scholarships has grown every year. Overall, more than $1.3 million in scholarship monies have been awarded to Mercy Health employees, members of employees’ immediate families, and students attending Mercy College of Ohio – Youngstown campus.

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