MASSENA - Individuals who volunteer their time to help others at the Massena Free Clinic for Adults were thanked for their efforts with a dinner this week.
Administrator Linda Caza said it was an opportunity to thank the nearly 50 active volunteers who assist them in providing no-cost health care to those who have no health insurance coverage.
Many, many more have come and gone over the years, she said.
Ms. Caza said the volunteers are what keeps the clinic going, with doctors, nurses, clerical and cleaning staff, and the clinics Board of Directors donating their time to the effort. The Board of Directors consists of 12 members.
In addition, she said, Massena Memorial Hospital donates services such as all of the laboratory tests and x-rays that need to be done to help diagnose the clinics patients. St. Johns Episcopal Church also provides the space for the program.
The Massena Free Clinic opened its doors in October 1999 in the rear of St. Johns Episcopal Church. Dr. Sateesh Goswami had read an article about a Miami, Fla., church that provided free care to the poor, and he wanted to do the same in Massena, where surveys showed a significant need for assistance with medical care.
Its mission of providing no-cost health care and pharmaceuticals to uninsured adults 19 years or older is supported by community volunteers, donations and in-kind services.
Ms. Caza said the need continues to grow.
We see two new patients a week plus our existing patients, she said.
The clinic is kind of in a state of flux right now because of the Affordable Health Care Act, according to the clinic administrator.
We dont know what thats going to do to us. Were proceeding as normal, she said.
In the meantime, the volunteers were treated this week to a dinner prepared by Sonya Boyce and her friends.
It is a thank you. Sonya and a couple of her friends volunteered to cook. Its much nicer, Ms. Caza said, noting Jackie Chatterton had also donated a cake for the dinner,.
Among those on hand was long-time volunteer Janice Cortese, who said she has been involved with the clinic since its opening in 1999.
I wanted to volunteer. I thought it was a very good cause, she said.
Katherine Blair has also been with the clinic since day one, serving in a multitude of roles.
You name it, Ive done it, from answering the phones to buying the supplies to making coffee and setting up the prescription program, she said.
When Ms. Caza arrived, she took a lot of that off me, Ms. Blair said.
She said her motivation for volunteering is to take care of others.
Its just a relief that some of the patients we have know they can be helped and well work with them, she said.