IN THE NEWS
Welcome Dr. Margaret Gill
Dr. David Plevak writes the following as Dr. Margaret Gill joins him as Co-Director of Our Lady of Guadalupe Free Clinic. Dr. Sidna Tulledge Scheitel continues in her leadership role as Associate Director.
2018 marks my 7th year as Medical Director of OLGFC and 65th year of life. A colleague who has consistently inspired, challenged and encouraged me has been Margaret Gill.
Margaret and I first met 25 years ago. As a resident physician she was assigned to the intensive care unit I was supervising. I was immediately impressed by this young doctor who approached her patients with joy, warmth and empathy. Margaret also defied the grueling ICU work schedule, and her third trimester pregnancy, to exhibit an impressive level of energy. Margaret and I became and remain great friends.
Over the years, we have shared an interest in resident physician education, faith and caring for the underserved. Margaret, her husband Jagi and her six boys have traveled on several occasions to medically serve the people of Costa Rica.
Margaret began volunteering during OLGFC’s early years, and has been one of our most consistent practitioners. Margaret just completed a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership from Creighton University where she and her son Colin “walked” to received their diplomas on the same day. She especially enjoyed the program’s focus on Servant Leadership. During Margaret’s studies, she was not able to regularly serve our patients. Mariana, Father Jim and volunteers would ask me, “When is Margaret coming back?”
Last month, Margaret and I had coffee, and I asked her if she would consider being named Co-Director of OLGFC. She accepted! Margaret will bring her excellent clinical skills, her compassion for the underserved, a strong and mature faith, and a wealth of new ideas to this leadership role. I know that Margaret will inspire, encourage and lead OLGFC into a challenging future, and I will be privileged to work alongside her as OLGFC’s Co-Director.
Star Tribune Tells Story
In the Sunday edition of the StarTribune 9/30/2018, columnist Jennifer Brooks tells the story of OLGFC on the front page of Section B-Local-State-Region news. The article graphically describes the pain, suffering and also the joy of the immigrant families Fr. Jim Callahan found when he arrived at St. Mary's in Worthington.
Fr. Jim's called his friend, Dr. Dave Plevak, for help. Brooks states, "What he found waiting for him was a public health crisis. People with uncontrolled diabetes, stress and depression. Diabetics with limbs turning black. People who were terrified that they would be deported if they asked for help."
Brooks column goes on to describe how the free clinic serves over 500 patients a year through the collaboration of volunteers and at least three medical systems in Minnesota and beyond. She writes the clinic runs on, "Donations, goodwill and an administrative staff of two."
"It's just phenomenal to see people, and to know (how sick) they were before and then see where they are now," said Fr. Jim in the article. "There's so much bad news these days. You don't always hear about the good."
OLGFC Awarded athenaClinicals by athenahealth, May 2017
A most important and recent addition to Our Lady of Guadalupe Free Clinic (OLGFC) is our new EHR (Electronic Health Record) called athenaClinicals, donated to the Clinic from athenahealth’s Corporate Responsibility program, athenaGives.
athenaGives works with free and charitable clinics across the US to support quality care for the uninsured. athenaGives awarded OLGFC with this gift of their software and network enabled services, which include onboarding, support, and document processing, after careful evaluation of OLGFC’s mission and “track record.” Since it’s a single instance-cloud based solution,athenaClinicals will also allow OLGFC to improve communication of medical information among its volunteer practitioners, most of whom live at a distance from Worthington. athenaClinicals will also allow OLGFC to track important clinical outcome variables amongst our patients. These data will aid us in adjusting our practice to improve clinical outcomes. It will also aid OLGFC in providing outcome variables to improve operational management and to compete for the critical funding so necessary for OLGFC’s future.
athenaClinicals EHR went fully online at OLGFC in May 2017. OLGFC is so grateful for the opportunity to work with athenaClinicals and thanks athenaGives for the priceless donation.
Works of Mercy Grant Awarded
OLGFC in Worthington, founded out of St. Mary’s Parish by Fr. Jim Callahan, Deacon (Dr.) Dave Plevak, Fr. Luis Vargas, and Fr. Jose Morales, has been awarded a $10,000 Works of Justice Fund Grant for its work in combating domestic violence.
OLGFC is an active work of mercy in the Winona diocese. Clinic volunteers are committed to promoting physical, mental, and spiritual health in the community, especially for immigrants. Their experience with patients in the medical clinic led the volunteer doctors and nurses to identify domestic violence as one of the most egregious barriers keeping families and individuals trapped in a cycle of poverty. Disturbingly prevalent in the population at large, domestic violence assumes more troubling dimensions in the growing immigrant population in Worthington. At the clinic, staff noticed that immigrant women in abusive relationships were in particularly precarious situations because they were vulnerable to both physical assault and coercive measures related to immigration or non-immigration status.
Battered immigrant women are often unable to communicate proficiently in English. In addition, cultural norms deter immigrant women from seeking help within immigrant families and communities. Violence in a marriage may also be seen as a "private problem" and women may be discouraged from going outside traditional family structures for solutions. Many immigrant women are unwilling to bear the consequences of ending their marriage, such as estrangement from family and community, and for many women deportation is a prospect to be avoided at all costs; therefore, there is a fear of involving law enforcement. The stakes are high. Speaking out about their abuse may mean a return to a life of malnutrition, poverty, and disease for them and their children. For women who have fled political persecution, it may mean torture, jail, or death.
OLGFC has begun to fight against domestic violence in the immigrant community by holding workshops on domestic violence, hosting public forums on the issue, and providing educational materials and counselors for the immigrant community. In seeking a long-term solution to the problem, OLGFC staff members recognized that only peers from within each ethnic community would have the understanding of the whole situation and be trusted enough to bring significant relief to the abused women and, significantly, education and behavior modification to the men who were abusing them.
To train peer counselors, OLGFC plans to use the Works of Justice Fund Grant to build leadership circles, "Circulos de Liderazgo,” made up of women and men from the immigrant community who have experienced domestic violence. Clinic staff members have identified individuals with leadership potential, and these candidates are now training to be peer leaders in and among the immigrant community. In addition to the leadership training, the clinic will also offer basic literacy training. Leadership training will include the use of an audio and visual curriculum for non-readers. The program is unique in that it will have a component which concentrates on men and emphasizes the prevention of abuse by challenging cultural norms and developing leadership and support groups of men to help with prevention. Education efforts will also be focused on youth, teens, and young adults through St. Mary's School, Parish Faith Formation, and the middle school and high school in Worthington.
Dr. Signa Tulledge-Scheitel named Associate Medical Director
Our Lady of Guadalupe Free Clinic is pleased to announce Dr. Sidna Tulledge-Scheitel as Associate Medical Director.
"Sidna's strong faith solidifies OLGFC's strong Roman Catholic connection," states Dr. Dave Plevak.
Dr. Tulledge-Scheitel serves as the Department Chair of Primary Care Internal Medicine at Mayo Clinic. "She also strenghtens our relationship to Mayo Clinic.," continues Dr. Plevak. "OLGFC is, and will continue to be, dependent on the recruitment of volunteers, the majority of which have come from Mayo in Rochester. Sidna has strong connections to medical students, practitioners in-training, and laboratory technologists throughout Minnesota. We both know our future OLGFC leaders will arise from these people."
Dr. Tulledge-Scheitel has already implemented a new system for providers and volunteers to sign up for weekends. A regular volunteer at many clinics, Sidna welcomes her new role, "I look forward to assisting with the further development of OLGFC and providing medical care to the uninsured in the Worthington residency."
Our Lady of Guadalupe Free Clinic is very fortunate to start 2015 with the joint forces of these competent and compassionate leaders as Associate Medical Directors.
An Extraordinary Day at OLGFC
It was a bitterly cold day in Worthington, MN. The thermometer read -10 and the windchill made it feel like -28.
Mariana waited in the warmth of the rectory for Pedro to arrive. He had promised her months ago that one day they would go down the center aisle of St Mary's and attend Mass together. It was his dream and her hope. A slight smile crossed Mariana's face when we told her Pedro had arrived. He had kept his promise.
The Mass was quite different than they both had expected. For today was Pedro's Mass of Christian Burial.
There are some people who come into your life and leave a lasting imprint on your heart. For me, Pedro was such a person. From the moment I met him at Our Lady of Guadalupe Free Clnic, I believed that Pedro was one of God's most beloved. Pedro was a man who lived the last eight months of his life filled with gratitude and love.
He was so grateful for OLG Free Clinic, the practitioners and volunteers and for the friends he had made at the clinic.
A few weeks after his visit to OLG Free Clinic, Pedro was admitted into the hospital. Once he was given medication and the pain subsided, he kept thanking the clinic for helping him. But Pedro's road to Calvary had just begun.
Through a diagnosis of two brain tumors, numerous tests, procedures and surgery, Pedro maintained a heart overflowing with gratitude. Knowing his condition was terminal, I asked Pedro, "What are you going to say to Jesus when you see him?" Without hesitation and with a smile he said, "I'm going to say thank-you for giving me a wonderful life!"
Pedro had been away from the church for many years. He received the Sacrament of the Sick and he went to Confession and at the conclusion of the celebration, he was joyful saying that he had rediscovered his faith which he thought was lost. "I came to the clinic to be healed physically but God saw I was in need of more important healing and that was my spiritual healing. I am so grateful."
Over the past few months I watched Mariana, our office manager, advocate for Pedro. She accompanied him through all his hospital procedures, spending hours with him and giving him words of encouragement and love. I was struck by the presence of God made visible. As Mother Teresa once said, "Christ comes to us in the distressing disguise of the poor." Watching Mariana, it was as if she was ministering to Jesus on the altar of Pedro's sick bed.
Pedro touched so many lives in ways he never could have imagined. Every saint has a past and every saint has a future. And today we say "Thank you, Pedro" for showing us the face of El Salvador.
In the Year of Mercy, we are grateful to all who have made Our Lady of Guadalupe Free Clinic a center of mercy and compassion. Please continue to pray as we continue in sharing in the healing ministry of Christ.
-Fr Jim Callahan
OLG Free Clinic
Dear OLG Free Clinic,
Thank you so much for your letter of recommendation. As of last Friday, I was accepted to the University of Minnesota Duluth Medical School! I can’t help but think that your letter of recommendation was instrumental to my matriculation. I am beyond grateful for your help and support to get to this point. This is my life’s dream, and you were one of the few that made it a reality. Thank you once again, and have a wonderful day!
OLGFC is extremely proud of our fellow colleague, Tim Roos on his acceptance to the University of Minnesota Duluth Medical School. It has been our blessing to have Tim as part of our volunteer staff at Our Lady of Guadalupe Free Clinic. We wish him much success in his future! Thanks, Tim!