United Way helps Mid-Ohio Valley programs stay healthy

PARKERSBURG – As state money becomes more limited, programs promoting health issues are relying on funding from the United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley.

Organizations and programs like the Mid-Ohio Valley Fellowship Home and Smiles For Life offered through the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department receive funding through the United Way to put on programs to help people promote healthier lifestyles and improve the overall health of people in the community.

The Mid-Ohio Valley Fellowship Home, which was founded in 1971, is receiving $30,000 from the United Way for programming expenses to help their clients remain clean and sober.

The Sober Residential Recovery Program is a 16-18 month residential program where people who had trouble with drugs and alcohol can stay. The clients are people who have been through treatment, but still need a little more time.

“It is a safe sober nurturing environment here,” Director Patrice Pooler said. “People really have a chance to look at the negative impact the drugs and alcohol have had on their lives.

“They look at making healthier choices for themselves.”

The home has women and men with children programs where parenting skills are taught. The MOV Fellowship Home is the only facility in the state with a program for men with children. In working with other agencies in the area, the home also helps clients with counseling, job skills training and more.

“Lives change here,” Pooler said. “Miracles happen here.”

Some of their successes have saved marriages and families as well as brought back people’s dignity and sense of self-worth, she said adding their people have given back to the community in a number of ways.

Many people who come to them have had a lot of trauma through their lives and had turned to drugs as an escape.

“We are the first people in their lives who believed in them,” Pooler said. “Good things happen here.”

The program treats the person, identifies the character faults that led to the drugs and deals with it.

“We give them time,” Pooler said. “We accept them.”

Many of their staff have been through the program or had family gone through the program at some point.

Women’s Manager LynAnn Saxon was a client back in 2004 and went through the program to get clean and sober for the benefit of her son. When the time came, she wanted to give back for the home helping her get her life back on track.

“I have never felt so honored to be someplace before,” she said.

There is a moment went many of their clients makes the realization that they need to change their lives and commit to it.

“The light turns on,” Saxon said.

The clients have rules they have to follow while at the home. There are also chores they are responsible for completing, including cooking meals for everyone, Men’s Manager Steve Ball said.

“They learn about preparing the meals and to go shopping,” he said.

Meals are served at a table for everyone and they are able to talk to each other about how things are going.

“Many have been going on free will for so long and they start being accountable for when they do wrong,” Saxon said.

Money from the United Way is helping to keep their doors open, Pooler said.

“There have been times when the state money has been really short but the United Way money is there,” she said.

There are many groups and organizations helped through the United Way that serve a variety of needs in the community.

Without that funding, the home would have to cutback on services and programming.

“The demand would still be there,” Pooler said.

With the heroin epidemic as big as it is, the demand has only increased locally.

There are around 40-50 people receiving services through their programs.

“There is strength in numbers,” Pooler said of the support clients offer each other day to day.

The Smiles For Life Program, offered through the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department, is receiving $15,000 from the United Way.

The program helps people with oral and dental care as well as educating people about the need for good oral/dental care.

“The initial goal of this program was to cut down on emergency room visits for dental pain and infection,” said coordinator Mary Beth Shae. “That is where people go when they don’t know where else to go.”

Many emergency rooms can’t deal with extractions or other concerns and might prescribe pain medications, but officials are watching that more closely because of the potential for abuse.

“This is a means for low-income adults to get some dental care,” Shae said.

The program receives no state funding and is completely grant funded.

Other agencies helping them include the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, the Our Community Foundation, Sisters Health Foundation, West Virginia University School of Dentistry, the Blennerhassett Dental Society, RAL Health, Marshall University School of Medicine and others.

Many local dentists volunteer out of their offices.

Many clients have never received routine or preventive dental care,

The application process involves a $40 screening fee. The program involves a health history, blood pressure screening, oral cancer screening, panoramic radiograph and charting of existing dental treatment and conditions.

Around 55 percent of participants use some form of tobacco, Shae said.

They try to teach them about self oral care.

As of December 2015, the program has had 1,530 adults screened; 2,629 dental visits; 2,041 volunteer hours; and around $917,482 in donated treatment over five years.

“We cannot do replacement teeth, partials or dentures,” Shae said. “Unfortunately, the largest services involved having their teeth removed and extractions.”

Some have cleanings and fillings done.

There are 24 local dentists and 20 hygienists involved in the program.

“Most dental disease can be prevent,” Shae said. “We educate when we can.

“People don’t realize that their self-care and their habits have a big effect on their health.”

Medicaid can cover some services. For those not covered, clients pay fees based on a sliding scale.

Their biggest age range is 26 to 35 years old.

The United Way money is being used to support staff costs.

They are trying to get kids in early and teach them early about good dental/oral cleaning habits.

“The health of their mouth affects the health of their whole body,” Shae said. “We do know that poor oral health can affect your heart and it can affect diabetes.

“If a woman is pregnant, an unhealthy mouth can affect the birth weight and health of the child. There are a lot of things that can come out of poor oral health.”


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)