FULTON, NY – One of the benchmarks for a strong community is the overall health of its residents. United Way of Greater Oswego County helps to fund 16 human services programs that focus specifically on improving the health and well-being of Oswego County residents.
One of the most vital programs to that mission is the Rural and Migrant Ministry of Oswego County.
Founded in 2000 by a group of women religious, the Rural and Migrant Ministry of Oswego County, provides free primary medical care to uninsured families and individuals.
Located at 14 Stewart St., Richland, the Rural and Migrant Ministry of Oswego County is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and hosts a free medical clinic each Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m.
In 2014, the clinic received more than 200 doctor visits.
As the major funding source, United Way makes it possible for the Rural and Migrant Ministry of Oswego County to offer health care services.
“We serve the working poor,” said Executive Director Selena Hoyt. “Many are working minimum wage jobs. The Affordable Care Act doesn’t make health care affordable for them. We are their only option for health care. United Way funding and our caring volunteer health providers make it possible.”
Each week uninsured Oswego County residents age 64 and younger have the opportunity to receive primary medical care from Dr. Laura Hamilton who takes time from her practice in Baldwinsville to volunteer her services to the Rural and Migrant Ministry’s medical clinic. Sharon Ellis, LPN also volunteers at the medical clinic and Pat Bellanger, LPN works with pharmaceutical companies to provide patients with prescription assistance.
In addition to the medical clinic, Hoyt said that she and staff member Amy Jackson provide patients with referrals and, when necessary, advocate on their behalf.
Thanks to partnerships with other agencies such as Cornell Cooperative Extension, Oswego County Opportunities, BlueCross BlueShield, and the Pulaski Health Center, Rural and Migrant Ministries provides patients with the opportunity to receive more than just primary health care.
When needed Hoyt said that patients are referred to other sources of medical care such as OCO’s Cancer Services Program.
Additionally, Dr. Hamilton does whatever she can with her colleagues.
“Thanks to the efforts of the clinic’s all volunteer staff, patients have received medical care for cases of throat cancer and breast cancer, issues that if not for our medical clinic would not have been diagnosed,” said Hoyt.
While the free medical clinic is their focus, Rural and Migrant Ministries of Oswego County also offers nutritional education, classes on healthy cooking, and houses a small emergency food pantry, which served 3,000 meals last year.
“We are very grateful for the support we receive from United Way. We are a poor area and there is a lot of need here. Our free medical clinic is the only one of its kind in Oswego County. Without it there would be many people that would not have medical care. There is nothing better you can do for your community than support the United Way. Donations stay in Oswego County and help people right in your own backyard,” added Hoyt.
As for the future, Hoyt said she would like to be able to serve more patients by welcoming another volunteer physician and a dentist, and secure additional funding to purchase the necessary medications for the clinic’s patients and food for the agency’s emergency food pantry.
For more information on the Rural and Migrant Ministry of Oswego County, or to tour their facility contact them at (315) 298-1154 or via e-mail at [email protected]
For more information on the United Way and the programs it funds contact them at (315) 593-1900 or visit www.oswegounitedway.org