Clinic Is Warming Hands and Hearts

Janice Carenbauer sees dozens of patients walk into Wheeling Health Right with the same problem – without a car or without money for gas, a large number of sick patients are waiting at bus stops or walking to the clinic without hats, gloves or sometimes even coats to keep them warm from winter’s biting chill.

That is why the board of deacons of Vance Memorial Presbyterian Church collected more than 200 hats, gloves, mittens and scarves for all ages and sizes to hand out to any person or family who walks in and looks cold.

Carenbauer, Health Right’s front office manager, cited a patient who lives eight block away from the center whose only mode of transportation is a bicycle he rides even in cold weather.

“These are patients who get up every morning, get their kids to school and work full-time jobs or part-time jobs, whatever they can find,” Carenbauer said. “They are not offered insurance, or it is so expensive they can’t afford it. There’s a working poor, and they have children. If they have extra money, they buy shampoo. They don’t have money for luxuries such as a scarf.”

Keeping people warm while they are traveling to the clinic is especially important since most of the patients have serious health problems such as diabetes, heart conditions or mental health issues and need to see a doctor to get their medicine. Making sure they get to their appointments, Carenbauer said, is the first step to ensuring their health.

Carenbauer said there are days when Health Right sees 60-80 patients, including plenty of walk-ins during flu season. The patients’ need for warm clothing is so great, she predicted the donated items will be gone within two weeks.

Lynne Exley, a member of Vance church, said it is the church’s second year donating to Health Right and the response from last year was so enthusiastic, members decided to do the project again for this year.

“It’s a simple gesture of trying to help our neighbors,” Exley said. “We wanted something that would have an immediate impact on our community. That’s why the church rallied for patients to have a safe and warm New Year’s.”