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Screenings, 'Medical Home' Help Offered By Sacred Heart


Pensacola High school plays host to a health fair next weekend, sponsored by Sacred Heart Health System, and aimed in part at giving residents a more permanent medical structure.

The event is part of a nationwide "Medical Mission at Home" by Sacred Heart’s parent firm, Indianapolis-based Ascension Health.

“I don’t like to think about it as a ‘health fair,’ but a ‘medical mission,’” said Susan Davis, Sacred Heart President and Chief Executive Officer.

“We do medical missions in under-served countries around the world, “Davis said. “And bringing those same types of service to our community is the driver behind this.”

Along with the usual lineup of screenings – blood pressure, lab work, vision, dental, and cholesterol – one of the main goals is to find people what Davis calls a “medical home.”

“A medical home is a provider that is in primary care, and can care for the patient across all their internal medicine needs,” Davis says.

Another part of the program are referrals to various local agencies that provide social services – behavioral health, Medicaid access, food, housing – along with matters of the spirit.

Credit Sacred Heart Health System
Susan Davis, President/CEO, Sacred Heart Health System.

“Spiritual care is always a part of anything that Sacred Heart does, as a faith-based organization,” said Davis. “There will be opportunities to teach meditation, to teach prayer. There will be people there that can deal with people from our community who might be in a crisis; and help them reach their God.”

This and other health fairs, events – whatever they’re called – come at a time of great uncertainty over the future of the Affordable Care Act, and healthcare in general in the United States. Davis says that doesn’t stop organizations such as Sacred Heart from trying to improve access to those in need.

“Medical Mission at Home is very important – and ‘uber-important’ – given what’s happening in Washington,” Davis said.

But Davis concedes that the stated goal of ACA – 100% access and total coverage – remains elusive.

“I think there are two things that are being chased,” said Davis. “I don’t know that we will ever have 100 percent coverage; but having a system that gives people access to health care is very important. The second piece of this is how do you pay for it?”

Cost is also one of the biggest – if not the biggest – challenges for hospitals. Sacred Heart picked up a tab of $125 million for charity care last year.

It’s a simple formula, says CEO Susan Davis.

“The less people that have insurance, the more it costs us to take care of ‘em,” said Davis.

The “Mission at Home” for Sacred Heart is Saturday, October 7, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Pensacola High School on West Maxwell Street. More information is available at www.medicalmissionhome.org.