Highmark's charitable arm giving $400K to Catholic Charities
In 2007, Idida Cruz began undergoing four-hour dialysis treatments three days a week for kidney failure, she said.
After the disease and treatment forced her to quit her job at a nursing home in 2010, she lost her employer-sponsored insurance.
Medicare began paying for her medical care, but she turned to Catholic Charities Free Health Care Center, Downtown, for free dental care, said Cruz, 63, of Lower Burrell. She now visits every three months for a checkup because the kidney transplant she received in October requires her to remain free of infection, she said.
“The services here are so professional, so loving. And I thank God for this blessing,” Cruz said.
The Catholic Charities center's mission — providing free dental and primary health care to the uninsured — prompted Highmark Health Services and its charitable foundation to continue their support of the center, most recently with a donation of $400,000 announced Thursday.
Highmark is the health center's biggest and most longstanding corporate donor, said Annette Fetchko, administrator of the center.
Highmark has donated about $2.2 million since the center opened in 2007, said Dan Onorato, Highmark Health's executive vice president of external affairs and communications.
“We liked the fact that it was filling a hole in the safety net,” he said.
The center mostly helps people that social service agencies call the “working poor.” They do not qualify for Medicaid or other types of assistance or cannot afford private insurance, and their income is at or below 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines.
A small percentage of patients, like Cruz, are covered by Medicare but receive dental-only benefits through the center, Fetchko said.
Demand for free medical services has grown as the number of low-income, uninsured Americans has grown for decades, said Julie Sonier, deputy director of the University of Minnesota's State Health Access Data Assistance Center.
In Pennsylvania, 67 percent of working people younger than 65 had employer-provided health insurance in 2010-11, compared with 77 percent in 1999-2000, she said.
The Catholic Charities center, which has $700,000 in renovations planned to meet growing demand, does not receive state or federal subsidies. It is funded by donations from corporations, foundations, special events and individual donors, Fetchko said.
Its fiscal 2013 total operating budget of $2.6 million includes $1.6 million worth of in-kind volunteer hours. Last year, the center helped 2,200 patients, mostly with volunteer staff, Fetchko said.
“Our greatest recruitment is our volunteers and our word-of-mouth,” she said.
Tory N. Parrish is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-5662 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers veteran linebacker Harrison focused on stretch run
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin ends practice with third-down work
- Knoch basketball team gets reinforcements
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin not grooming successor to RB Williams
- Crosby scores twice, Malkin delivers OT goal as Penguins beat Blues
- Penguins co-owner Lemieux snuffs rumored rift with Crosby
- Year’s worth of rain floods Qatar
- Puppies’ eyes glued shut, South Huntingdon animal shelter says
- Steelers kicker Boswell puts best foot forward
- Friends, family, history lure natives back to Western Pennsylvania
- Committee says Senate should consider removing Kane as Pa. AG