No visa required for this mission!
Who says that you have to fly thousands of miles to address the health needs of an underserved community?
July 16 marked the completion of this year’s “Urban Plunge,” a partnership of Medical Missions Foundation and Cerner’s First Hand Foundation that offers health screenings to inner-city residents in Kansas City. This year, we set up in three churches for a total of five days during the months of June and July.
Over 100 Urban Plunge volunteers provided comprehensive health screenings to 234 patients. These totals were a big increase from our inaugural year in 2015, when we visited one church to provide screenings to 37 people.
Patients of all ages proceeded through a well-choreographed sequence of health stations–height and weight, hearing, vision, dental, vital signs and head-to-toe exam. Results from each station were entered in Cerner’s patient management system in real time, with patients receiving a complete report (with appropriate referrals) at check-out. With parental permission, screening results are documented in a secure, Internet-accessible electronic health record.
Cerner did a remarkable job with the logistics–adapting their ongoing Healthy Kids Screening Program in inner-city schools. This was very sophisticated operation, especially considering that this was a temporary set-up in these churches’ fellowship halls.
I volunteered for the vision screening station for the June 10th “plunge” at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Kansas City, KS. I was expecting a simple eye chart mounted on the wall, with no more challenging a task than pointing to the chart and scribbling the results. Wrong! I was trained on the same type of electronic vision testing device my optometrist uses, with a range of tests to assess distance vision, reading acuity and depth perception.
One practical application of Urban Plunge, results can be used as health clearance for participation in school sports. On my final day volunteering at St. Therese Little Flower Church in KCMO, 25 football players from Hogan Prep High School were shepherded through the screening stations by their coaches. To get their players to Urban Plunge, the coaches had cancelled that day’s practice–much appreciated by players on the 95 degree day. As one coach said, “We struggle every year getting their physicals done. This might be the only medical care they will get.”
Thank you First Hand Foundation! And thank you volunteers! Urban Plunge has become a great alternative for medical and non-medical volunteers to change lives in underserved communities right here in Kansas City. No visa required!