From Zac Ponsky
For more than a dozen years I have worked with my brother, Lee, and numerous other family members and Cleveland-area friends to send medical equipment and supplies to developing nations through an organization called MedWish. Similarly through MedWish, I have participated in several humanitarian/medical missions to provide healthcare to the medically underserved around the globe.
For years the wonderful individuals who have been associated with MedWish asked themselves why similar volunteer missions could not be performed right in our own backyard, where the need is so great. Initially, we figured red-tape would prevent this type of activity domestically, but then we learned about an organization, known as Remote Area Medical or RAM, that recruits countless medical and other volunteers to provide free health care to the uninsured and underinsured.
With this backdrop, we became determined to find a way to harness the energy and excitement in Cleveland to begin to host periodic free mass health clinics where we would provide medical, vision and dental services to those who need it most.
After a great deal of work and with great hospital, corporate, safety net and partners in tow, we hosted our first clinic in July 2009. Both medical and lay volunteers and patients thought it was a huge success. Everyone who came to see us spent time with a social worker who provided counseling and information about follow-up services. We also offered pre-screening for medical, housing, energy, tax, employment and other programs.
The excitement was palpable. We attracted countless volunteers to our two-day event. This included individuals who simply showed up unannounced and people who decided to stay to volunteer, after being patients at our event.
We hope to continue to harness this level of excitement for each of our events and challenge each medical health care provider to give the Northeast Ohio community just four volunteer hours of their time each year through Medworks. Think what a difference that can make!