OLEAN – One of the main reasons Paula Snyder was hired as the Executive Director of the Cattaraugus County Campus of SUNY Jamestown Community College was to expand the college’s involvement in the Olean community.
So, there was Snyder with JCC President Daniel DeMarte helping volunteers build a new community playground on King Street in September 2019, when Jim Mahar of BonaResponds approached them with a proposal.
Would the JCC be willing to host and co-sponsor a pop-up medical clinic for underserved people in the downtown campus community?
“Daniel said yes on the spot,” Snyder recalls.
Operated by Remote Area Medical – RAM – the clinic is scheduled for September 11-12 at the JCC. Medical, dental and optical care will be provided free of charge to those in need. No ID or insurance is required to receive treatment.
In addition to primary medical, dental and vision care, the clinic will provide resources in mental health, women’s health, cancer screening services and diabetes education from St. Bonaventure professor Scott Medler and his colleagues. student health professionals. Individuals will also be able to register for Affordable Care Act coverage, receive a COVID-19 vaccination and donate blood at ConnectLife.
JCC parking lots open at 12:01 a.m. on September 11, with clinic doors typically opening at 6 a.m., according to RAM’s website. People requiring care are requested to arrive as soon as possible.
“You will receive a restaurant ringtone,” Snyder said. “In the parking lot, volunteers will check in people as they enter. You will be called to register and you will be told where to go.
For most of this year, Snyder, Mahar, and a steering committee of community members have planned the clinic. The group has helped recruit doctors, dentists, ophthalmologists and other medical volunteers, has raised thousands of dollars and continues to sort out logistics.
However, more volunteers and more funding are needed to meet and exceed Snyder and Mahar’s goal of providing $ 200,000 in care for 400 clinic patients.
Mahar volunteered at a RAM clinic at Université Saint-Bonaventure in 2017, when $ 188,000 in medical care was provided to 314 people.
“There was such a big impact. It was spectacular. I don’t know how to put it any other way, ”said Mahar, finance professor at St. Bonaventure and leader of the BonaReponds volunteer group. “Of all of these things – I’ve taken over 100 trips all over to volunteer and helped build over 200 wheelchair ramps – I don’t think I’ve ever been on a day that’s been over. impact in a weekend than it did. It was amazing.
Mahar remembers most of the people who were helped. Some had toothache but could not afford treatment, others could not see without glasses and even more did not have a doctor and did not know how to make an appointment with one.
“They were literally hugging us and thanking us,” Mahar said.
Since RAM’s creation in 1985, more than 863,000 people have benefited from free services. The RAM clinic in Saint-Bonaventure was the first of its kind in New York State. It was important to DeMarte that JCC was involved in the return of RAM to the region.
“Daniel is really a driving force behind us to do this,” Snyder said. “Daniel, working alongside our county health and all of our health partners, is concerned about the state of rural health in our counties. It’s been part of his program since he became president. He examines county health rankings and reflects on how JCC can help raise the standard of health for our county residents who live and work in our communities.
As a career nurse and longtime director of the JCC Campus Health Center, RAM’s mission is also close to Snyder’s heart. She has been leading the bi-weekly steering committee meetings since March.
Committee members include Karen Fohl of the Olean General Hospital, who has recruited many volunteer medical and health professionals; the mayor of Olean, Bill Aiello, who pledged the support of his municipal services; Meme Yanetsko, chief operating officer of the Greater Olean Region Chamber of Commerce, who booked discounted hotel rooms for out-of-town volunteers; Dr Kevin Watkins, Cattaraugus County Public Health Director; and Dr. Annemarie Zimmerman, Medical Director of Universal Primary Care, who will help assess patients with primary care needs.
“They are essential actors in being able to reach the rural poor in all of our regions who also know people who have financial capacities and practical capacities,” Snyder said.
“I think this is a wonderful community trip together and something we should be proud of,” said Fohl, the longtime former president of the Olean General Hospital Foundation. “Being able to improve their dental care, their vision care – people can go out with a pair of glasses – it’s almost a miracle, on top of their primary care. Hopefully, we can also put people in touch with insurance that they didn’t even know was possible.
JCC’s downtown location on North Union Street helps the clinic be more accessible to lower-income citizens of the city compared to the Saint-Bonaventure campus.
When Mahar, owner of Jim’s Park & Shop in Olean, consulted a professional for market research before deciding to buy the Front Street service store, he learned that 22% of people living under a mile from the store did not own a vehicle.
“In reality, that’s the majority of people we’re looking for,” Mahar said. “People who have cars usually have money. We want the people who need help the most. They couldn’t reach Bonas. It’s a long way to go if you’re sick or in a wheelchair. He’s a game changer. Instead of bringing them to us, we go to them.
“What I love is that the walking poor can do it,” Snyder added. “You don’t have to have a car. You don’t even need to have a bicycle. You can walk to this clinic for nothing.
University of Buffalo Dental School Doctors Jim Harris and Joe Gambacorta and RAM Clinic veterans visited JCC in December 2019, followed by RAM officials from Tennessee in February 2020 to ensure the campus had the means to host a clinic.
Snyder said general medical care services provided by Universal Primary Care will be provided at JCC’s Allied Health & Sciences Center, with dental care in the North Union Street parking lot and optical care in the Dresser-Rand Training & Conference Center. . The truck where the glasses are made will be parked on North Union Street.
Mahar marveled at the complexity of RAM operations when his team arrived at SBU in 2017.
“Moving in and moving was an event in itself,” Mahar said. “They show up with big trucks with everything on them. It’s amazing how much they brought. RAM’s level of professionalism is incredible. They have a world class operation. They are really good.
Those interested in volunteering can register on volunteer.ramusa.org for one-day or half-day commitments. Those wishing to donate can do so online through the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation at bit.ly/RAM-Fund.
For more information visit ramusa.org or call (865) 579-1530.