Programs Receiving the TMAF John P. McGovern Champion of Health Award
2012 Award Winner: Mission of Mercy Texas Mobile Medical Program
The Mission of Mercy Mobile Medical Program has treated 2,350 uninsured or underinsured South Texans since its inception in 2007. Each year it provides approximately 3,000 physician visits and an equal number of free prescription medications out of its five mobile clinics focusing on helping the population who work and make too much money for public assistance, but who are also unable to afford insurance, healthcare, and prescriptions on their own. According to Mission of Mercy, “more than 50 percent of Mission of Mercy patients suffer from chronic illnesses, including arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, and depression.”
2011 Award Winner: Julie Rogers “Gift of Life” Program
The “Gift of Life” offers uninsured and underinsured patients across Southeast Texas free education, cancer detection, and access to treatment. The program was recognized for its holistic approach to fighting cancer “We have worked diligently and passionately to provide awareness, education, and free cancer screenings for thousands of patients,” said “Gift of Life” founder Regina Rogers. “The TMAF’s recognition of the ‘Gift of Life’ as an outstanding public health organization further empowers our efforts to improve the health of all Southeast Texans.” Local physicians volunteer their time and services to “Gift of Life,” and several medical partnerships support the program’s mission.
During the past 15 years, the “Gift of Life” has grown into one of Texas’ largest and most comprehensive cancer screening and awareness organizations for medically underserved patients. The program has given patients nearly 17,600 free mammograms and 6,000 free prostate screenings since its inception in 1994. “Gift of Life” also implemented several antismoking campaigns and provides educational outreach to more than 18,000 people annually — teaching about breast and testicular health.
2010 Winner: “Volunteer Physicians of New Braunfels” New Braunfels Volunteers in Medicine
The Volunteer Physicians of New Braunfels program by The New Braunfels Volunteers in Medicine provides basic medical and dental care to underserved, low-income, uninsured Comal County residents. Dependant on volunteer support, the program delivers quality medical care, support and education forty hours per week at no charge to approximately 18,000 residents. Since 2008, the program has administered more than 2,800 appointments with broader goals for the future.
The program goal is to prevent further serious illness by meeting the needs of those who fall in the gap between qualifying for government assistance and having the ability to independently pay for private insurance. Many of these patients have gone without medical care for extended periods of time, resulting in complex needs. By serving these individuals, the clinic ultimately reduces health risks for the community at large and protects the local economy by helping to maintain employment. Previously, the only source of care for countless patients had been in emergency rooms, causing many to view physicians poorly.
The program enhanced these relationships by providing personalized medical care, finding that most patients embrace the responsibilities to improve and maintain their personal health. This physician-run program is made possible through generous funding from the CHRISTUS Fund, Kronkosky Charitable Foundation, McKenna Legacy Foundation and the Baptist Health Foundation of San Antonio.
2009 Winner: “Care Van Program” The Caring for Children Foundation of Texas
One in four Texas children goes without the necessary immunizations to lead a healthy life. The children are too poor or lack access to medical care. Approximately 1.8 million uninsured children lived in Texas when the Caring for Children Foundation launched the program in 1997. Through the Care Van Program and its statewide sponsor, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, more than 349,000 uninsured Texas children have been immunized.
The program coordinates with the Texas Department of State Health Services, local health departments, and local immunization coalitions to conduct outreach clinics. The program’s fleet of 10 Care Vans allows it to reach people in schools, restaurants, churches, and other community centers. The vans are specially equipped mobile immunization units that provide free or low-cost vaccinations. This allows the program to reach the most people with limited means, at convenient locations and times.
The program consists of community partnerships, including those with physician members of local TMA-affiliate county medical societies, and volunteers of local TMA Alliance chapters.
2007 Winner: “Project Access” Dallas County Medical Society
The heart of this program demonstrates the compassion of physicians who are working toward a solution to a nationwide problem in caring for the uninsured. Individuals with an income not exceeding 200 percent of the federal poverty level and not on Medicaid, Medicare or Parkland HealthPlus, are eligible for valuable healthcare services through the generosity of hundreds of volunteers.
Established in September 2001, the Dallas County Medical Society and several community partners created Project Access Dallas (PAD) to assist Dallas County residents who struggle with the challenges of poverty and can not afford medical insurance. The program consists of a network of volunteer physicians, partnering hospitals, local charity medical clinics and ancillary partners who all give their time to work with these patients. Because of these donated services, patients enrolled in PAD are assigned a primary care physician, receive up to $750 a year in pharmacy benefits and have access to free specialty care, labs, ancillary procedures, care coordination and inpatient hospital care. The program is steadily growing and has more than 700 physician volunteers. Patients cared for in 2006 totaled 1,274.
While the number of uninsured has increased in Dallas County, thanks to PAD, the number without access to care has decreased. PAD plays a direct role in decreasing the number of hospitalizations and emergency department visits for patients enrolled in the program. Since April 2002, program partners have donated more than $6.2 million in patient care enabling patients to receive the care they need with dignity.
2006 Winner: “Healthy High/Healthy Choices” Schulenburg Weimar in Focus Together
Healthy High/Healthy Choices, a program of SWIFT (Schulenburg Weimar in Focus Together, Inc.) received the award at the TMA Fall Conference luncheon on September 29 at the Hyatt Regency Austin.
Founded by Olga Duchicela, MD, Weimar, SWIFT is a community bred health and wellness program that can be replicated by any rural Texas community.
Healthy High/Healthy Choices, whose goal is to reduce youth obesity, is comprised of 10 stand alone day programs delivered on campuses for grades 1-12, plus year around elements that involve youth, their parents and other adults in Schulenburg and Weimer schools. Quarterly programs serve persons aged 50 and older. Currently there are more than 2,000 participants and 40 partners in this program.
2005 Winner: “Child Nutrition Program” Texas Department of Agriculture
Texas Commissioner of Agriculture Susan Combs has led the fight against childhood obesity since 2003. She aggressively sought government funding and made significant changes to Texas school meal plans. Commissioner Combs’ steadfast efforts earned her the TMA Foundation’s prestigious John P. McGovern Champion of Health Award for 2005. Commissioner Combs and the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) were singled out among numerous other entries for the sweeping changes they made to Texas’ Child School Nutrition Program.
In 2003, the U.S. Department of Agriculture transferred the $1.8 billion Child Nutrition Programs to the Texas Department of Agriculture. Today, limited varieties of fried foods, carbonated drinks, and candy are available for school lunches, and there are restrictions on serving sizes as well. Limited access to snack and drink machines also is in effect, despite strong opposition from vending machine companies and school officials. This initiative serves as the model for other school nutrition programs across the country. In 2004, Time-ABC News recognized Commissioner Combs as one of six national heroes in the fight against obesity.
2004 Winner: “Caring Management for Chronic Healthy Living” Cancer & Chronic Disease Consortium of El Paso
The consortium won for its program, Caring Management for Chronic Healthy Living, which targets patients in greatest need of preventive care and teaches them how to self manage their health. The group works to increase access to health care for medically-underserved people in El Paso and West Texas.
The consortium describes itself as “a minority community-based organization,” whose vision is to “achieve a West Texas in which residents are free of needless suffering from chronic disease and are active partners in a prevention-oriented health care system that is integrated, comprehensive, and non-discriminatory.”
Numbers attest to their success. In 14 years, the group has collaborated with partners to screen more than 52,000 women for breast and cervical cancer, and in recent years, it screened nearly 11,000 adults for chronic disease. Services such as these are particularly valuable because many of the almost 1.8 million residents have difficulty accessing health care for a host of reason such as language and cultural barriers, poverty, and lack of health insurance and transportation.
One key element being addressed is health education. Many cases of premature death and disability in El Paso could have been prevented with proper, timely patient education. For example, patients often wait to seek care until the situation becomes an emergency, which is both more expensive and often more critical in nature.
2002 Winners: “Project W.A.T.C.H.” Fort Bend County Medical Alliance
“Our alliance was deeply honored to receive this award. The impact on our community continues to resonate into the future health of our children. The financial award provides inspiration not only to our hard-working members, but also to other county alliances who were contemplating adopting our program in their school systems. In my opinion, an award of this sort is the highest form of recognition because it affords opportunities to raise awareness within community programs in a personally gratifying manner.”
— Linda Berthelsen, Past President, Fort Bend County Medical Society Alliance
Alliance members blanketed Fort Bend schools with materials and taught the students about Weight, Activity, Tobacco, Cholesterol, and Hypertension through a variety of school activities and guests like Mr. Yuck Mouth.
2001 Winner: “Teen Videofest” Tarrant County Medical Society Alliance
“The winning of the 2001 Champion of Health Award from the Texas Medical Association Foundation gained statewide recognition for Teen Videofest. The Tarrant County Public Health Department continues using the project as a model for getting teens involved in peer group health issues. The award allowed the project to access funding and grow far beyond expectations.”
— Terri Andrews, Past President Tarrant County Medical Society Alliance
Teen Videofest is an annual contest for Tarrant County teens, which provides them an opportunity to learn about health issues through the creative and fun medium of video production. The project helps promote enthusiasm, self-esteem, and self-worth through a team approach that is facilitated by the Tarrant County Medical Society Alliance and Tarrant County Public Health Department, as well as numerous volunteers representing public and private organizations, corporations, and agencies.
Prior to 2001, the award was given to individuals.