PITTSTON — On Wednesday, Nov. 4, the Care and Concern Free Health Clinic added a new feature to the building in order to better service the community.
The Pittston Lithuanian Club held several fundraisers over a period of time and donated $17,000 for a new ramp for an entryway located on the parking lot side of the building.
According to Jim Collins, Lithuanian Club member, the club heard the clinic was in need of an access ramp entrance and decided to donate money for the project though fundraising.
“This entrance, although not the main entrance, will be utilized by food deliveries where the food can be wheeled right in the building,” Msgr. John Bendik, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church, which hosts the Care and Concern Ministry.
Previously food was brought through the main entrance on Williams Street and those delivering the food had to negotiate steps. Bendik reiterated the ramp entrance would not be the main entry for patients.
“Some patients that cannot utilize steps will be able to use the ramp entrance,” he said.
“I’d like to thank Tom Reilly of Reilly Associates for the design work, Al Dunn for the concrete work and King Glass for putting up the structure,” Bendik added. “I know everyone gave us a break on the service.”
The Lithuanian Club hopes to partner with the Care and Concern Free Health Clinic in future projects.
Celebrating eight years
The birth of the Care and Concern Free Health Clinic, developed from a vision by Ann Cocco and Nancy Baiera, was eight years ago, on Nov. 7, 2007. The clinic is bigger and better than ever today.
As of Oct. 21, the clinic has had 9,268 visits from 3,707 patients, all helped by the completely volunteer staff of doctors, nurses, and non-medical personnel that have been the backbone of the clinic.
Before the clinic opened, Bendik had a problem on his hands — what to do with the empty school once used by the now-defunct Seton Catholic High School?
According to the St. John the Evangelist church website, Cocco, a parishioner at the church, initially wanted to open a shelter when she retired, but knew that kind of project was financially unfeasible. Then she had a thought — a free health clinic. After discussing the idea with her friend Baiera and Deacon Jim Cortegerone, the plan made its way to Bendik, and the rest is history.
The school was transformed into a space that serves many needs of Greater Pittston’s residents. The school is now known as St. John the Evangelist Pastoral Center.
Classrooms were turned into waiting rooms, treatment rooms, dental room, nurses’ station, and administration offices. Other classrooms are utilized by the Free Pediatric Clinic, the Greater Pittston Food Pantry, the Kids Clothes Closet and the Toy and Book Closet, all part of the Care and Concern Ministry.
Uninsured patients receive diagnostic testing such as blood testing, X-Rays, MRIs, as well as medication — all free.
Last year, for the seventh anniversary, the clinic acquired the My Accessible Real-Time Trusted Interpreter (MARTTI). MARTTI is a device that can contact and communicate with hundreds of qualified staff from all over the country interpreting for those that cannot understand English. It’s a two-way audio/visual device where a medical contact can speak to a patient in their own language face-to-face.
The clinic staff includes physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, pharmacists, a dentist, a podiatrist, social workers, mental health counselors, a nutritionist, aides, and secretaries, all working on a voluntary basis. Medical students from The Community Medical College in Scranton volunteer, as well.