Health is on the Way

Imagine that you are working for less than a living wage and suffering through the pain of a physical illness. Perhaps you are transitioning out of homelessness and confronting the lingering effects of a long period of substandard personal care; perhaps you are struggling with the burden of drug and alcohol dependency. Alternatively, imagine that inadequate medical insurance coverage coupled with the myriad of demands involved in supporting yourself and your family on a near poverty level income has led you to neglect your physical and psychological well being.

Without insurance, you find doctor visits and hospital stays beyond the reach of what your purse strings allow you to grasp. Free clinics, which usually overflow with those on assistance, rarely have evening hours and you are in no position to miss even one day of work. If you have been imagining along with me, you will probably agree that the situation appears bleak; but, as John Kerry famously said four years ago, help is on the way.

In collaboration with Metro-State University’s College of Nursing, First Lutheran Church (profiled in the previous issue of Vox Veritas) plans to open the Love Grows Here Wellness Center. As currently envisioned, First Lutheran’s Wellness Center will draw on both traditional and alternative-healing traditions to provide a variety of health related services. Maryann Chowen, PHN, First Lutheran’s resident block nurse, intends to supplement the more familiar techniques of western medicine with her knowledge of native and holistic healing practices. Nursing students from Metro-State’s public health and nurse practitioners programs, under the supervision of their instructors Joyce Bredesen and Cecelia Erickson, will provide blood pressure screening, podiatric inspections and foot cleansing along with other health assessments and appropriate referrals.

The Love Grows Here Wellness Center will occupy several rooms of Norelius Hall, the school building on the grounds of First Lutheran Church, at 436 Maria near the intersection of East 7th Street and Maria Avenue. The Wellness Center, scheduled to open September 24, will accept clients from 5:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. every Wednesday evening. A meal will be served at the beginning of the evening and a variety of health related services will be available following the meal.

Nurse Chowen and Renae Dalluhn plan to provide healing touch therapy; exercise sessions will also be available. The Center will also offer guidance on everything from acquiring adequate medical insurance coverage to practical nutritional information. Experienced mental health professionals will be available to assist those coping with chemical dependency issues, struggling with mental illness, or simply stressing over the pressures of daily life. Not all services will be available every Wednesday; additional services may be added as the Center’s volunteers become more familiar with the specific needs of each client.

All will be welcomed at the Love Grows Here Wellness Center. Ideally, however, the Center aims to fill a void for those people with an income that exceeds the restrictions of free clinics, such as Health Care for the Homeless, but are neither sufficiently well insured nor financially secure enough to regularly utilize health care services. People in such circumstances often receive care only upon an urgent visit to a hospital’s emergency room.

One goal of First Lutheran’s Love Grows Here Wellness Center is to help people establish a relationship with health care professionals that deepens over time and promotes wellness and health in every aspect of a person’s life. Often those transitioning out of homelessness and the working poor receive medical treatment that narrowly focuses on a specific health crisis rather than care that promotes wellness for the whole person. The Center offers itself as a bridge from the limited crisis only care to consistent care that addresses a person’s continuing health needs.
Now, imagine a place that offers you a host of health enriching services at no charge, provides you with information about getting more out of life, offers you assistance in acquiring insurance, extends to you continuing support for chronic or recurring conditions and serves you a hot meal to boot. Such a place might seem the stuff of fantasy, but, come Wednesday, September 24, you will not be limited to merely imagining such a place. You can experience the Love Grows Here Wellness Center in reality simply by journeying to 7th and Maria and visiting First Lutheran Church. It is sure to help what ails you.

1 Comment »

  1. Todd Douglas said,

    Great article. It’s good to know that there’s a free center offering ongoing health care to the poor and underinsured. I just read a Pioneer Press article 9-24-2008 edition) on how those with “publicly” financed insurance receive less than optimum care. The Wellness Center seems a much needed program. Kudos to First Lutheran and Metro State.


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