Angels Among Us Event Supports the Underprivilaged and Uninsured

Photography by Wes Battoclette

For all the changes going on in healthcare, one fact has remained constant: there are still far too many members of society who are uninsured and impoverished, who can’t afford their prescription medications or get access to care when they need it. On April 15 the Mercy Health Foundation and its supporters gathered in the ballroom at the Renaissance Hotel in Cincinnati to address
this very issue.

The inaugural Angels Among Us Awards Dinner first recognized some of the inspiring work accomplished by the foundation on behalf of Mercy’s healing ministry. Awards were given out to Mercy employees, physicians and volunteers recognized for outstanding service through their healing touch, smile, compassion and skills. In addition, the inaugural Partner of the Year award was presented to The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati, honored for making a remarkable difference in the health of our community.

The Mercy Health Foundation’s mission is to raise funds to empower and equip the Mercy Health network to extend its healing ministry with compassion and innovation, thus making the community a healthier and better place to live, work and play. Funds are raised through the support of countless individuals, companies, grants and foundations. The Mercy Health Foundation then uses those funds to partner with other organizations for both brick-and-mortar projects and efforts aimed at advancing clinical care and community wellness.

“Angels Among Us was an amazing event that re-introduced Mercy Health Foundation to Greater Cincinnati. We were overwhelmed by our community’s support for extending Mercy’s health ministry to people who are poor and under-served,” says Roger LaGreca, Mercy Health Foundation president.

The event was sponsored by 26 organizations, including supporting sponsors Fifth Third Bank and OHC. Grammy Award-winning artist Amy Grant performed, introduced by Cincinnati mayor John Cranley and accompanied by vocalists from Mercy and McAuley high schools. More than 600 attendees joined to raise more than $250,000 for the foundation.

Angels Among Us marks just the latest success for Mercy Health. The Cincinnati-based hospital network announced in June 2014 that it would be constructing a new $71 million 365,000-square-foot headquarters in Bond Hill. The following November, it announced the expansion and renovation of its Anderson Hospital at a cost of $71 million. In addition, a $94 million expansion and renovation project is under way at The Jewish Hospital – Mercy Health. Mercy Health finalized the purchase of The Jewish Hospital in 2010 for $180 million.

No doubt a busy 18 months for the hospital network. It’s been a busy 18 months for the foundation that supports it, too. In late 2014 Mercy Health received a “transformative” gift of $16 million from The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati, says LaGreca, to expand the Emergency Department at Jewish Hospital and to fund the graduate medical research programs based there. “It is the largest private gift in Mercy Health’s history and we are incredibly grateful to The Jewish Foundation for their generosity and confidence in our stewardship of the Jewish Hospital legacy.” The Mercy Health Foundation is now working with other partners to match up to $6 million of The Jewish Foundation grant.

These brick-and-mortar projects are no doubt integral to Mercy Health’s mission. But the community programs are important too, and it was one such program, the Mercy Health Partnership Program, that was the focus of Angels Among Us.

The program is a coalition of volunteer healthcare providers who, since 1996, have offered accessible, affordable and quality healthcare to uninsured people with limited income in Greater Cincinnati. It connects members to a ‘medical home’ and provides access to affordable prescription medication. Members are assigned to participating primary care physicians who agree to see these patients for a $20 flat office visit. Members also receive a prescription card to use at any Kroger pharmacy.

The effect of the program is to aid members with their chronic conditions and ongoing healthcare needs. Moreover, by assisting members with their applications for health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid coverage and Mercy Health financial assistance, the program helps secure benefits for those members for which they might not have known they qualified.

Asked whether Angels Among Us was a success, LaGreca answers overwhelmingly in the affirmative. He also invites any participants who are interested in the program or the foundation to mark 2016’s event on the calendar: “Plan now to be part of next year’s exciting Angels Among Us event in June 2016! We look forward to keeping our community engaged with us in living Mercy’s mission. If you’re interested in learning more or being part of our work, please contact us.”