Annual event brings medical care to the people

For the past two years, San Marcos resident Jim Kimball tried his best to save up for an expensive $1,800 tooth extraction.

After waiting for three hours Saturday, Kimball, who was the ninth person in line for Ascension’s Medical Mission at Home event at Seton Medical Center Hays, got the chance to receive the procedure he needed at no cost. 

For Kimball and thousands of others, Saturday’s event allowed them to obtain medical care they may not have been able to have otherwise.

Approximately 100 people patiently wait in line near the entrance of Seton Medical Center Hays for Ascension’s Medical Mission at Home to open Saturday morning. People were in line for as long as three hours for the event, which offered free healthcare services for area residents. (photo by Moses Leos III)

Approximately 100 people patiently wait in line near the entrance of Seton Medical Center Hays for Ascension’s Medical Mission at Home to open Saturday morning. People were in line for as long as three hours for the event, which offered free healthcare services for area residents. (photo by Moses Leos III)

The Medical Mission at Home, which was a one-day, first-come, first served event, offered free medical care to Hays County residents. Medical services included diabetes education, immunizations and eye exams for children, dental care and pharmacy consultations.

Audrey Salas, a Seton nurse who was volunteering at the event, said people she assisted had children who may not have qualified for Medicaid insurance. Those individuals sought children’s eye and dental exams.

Salas said she noticed many Spanish-speaking residents sought all of the services offered.

“They are taking advantage of the pharmacy because the grandmother might be diabetic, or just the children to have an exam, because they’re at a healthy state, but don’t have insurance to go and see a pediatrician,” Salas said.

An additional challenge some face is medical services are either not brought to them, or that they aren’t made aware of them.

“That’s where we come into play,” Salas said. “After they are seen, there are stations where they can go and find other resources outside of the medical mission at home.”

Erica Gonzalez, who discovered the event through her job, said she attended the event to get her children and herself checked out.

Gonzalez said the event was a “good idea” for many single parents who struggle to go to the doctor.

While Gonzalez has health insurance through Obamacare, the high deductible with her plan is a financial strain.

“Sometimes I have to choose to pay other things rather than going to the doctor myself,” Gonzalez said.

Kimball also cited struggles with health insurance, primarily the high cost of dental coverage through Obamacare.

“It’s hard to get any dental coverage,” Kimball said. “I’ve been waiting for two years to get this tooth taken care of. I can’t seem to save enough money to do it.”

Kyle resident Martin Martinez said he and his family went to the event because they don’t have health insurance.

As a result, trying to stay healthy is a struggle, as they cannot regularly get checked for any issues.

“If something really hurts, we go to the hospital,” Martinez said. “We try to eat better and exercise a little, but other than that, we just go with it.”

For others, the chance to receive necessary health care, whether dental, medical or mental, was an emotional experience.

Kyle resident Morris Fabre, who was “beginning to move forward with everything” and taking control of his life, said the event was a “blessing.”

“If everybody would contribute just a little bit, there would be less hassle for everyone,” Fabre said.

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