When Anthony Hannon first discovered the lump in his neck, he faced the same decision that many people do when confronted with a strange, new ailment.
Is it something that can be ignored until it just goes away on its own? Or, is it something serious, requiring an immediate trip to the doctor?
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At the time, Anthony was living at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission Shelter.
Fortunately, Ellen Krueger, the outreach nurse for Columbia St. Mary’s St. Ben’s Clinic, was able to examine him during one of her bi-monthly screening and health counseling sessions.
St. Ben’s Clinic is a primary care clinic providing care to homeless people and those unable to access traditional medical care. St. Ben’s has an active outreach program that establishes relationships with people living in shelters and using local meal programs and food pantries.
Services at St. Ben's are provided through the help of volunteer physicians and receptionists as well as paid nursing and social work staff. They have taken on the challenge of becoming the “medical home” for those who are homeless. This requires taking a “window of opportunity” approach, meaning, improving the patients health as much as possible within one visit since follow-up visits may be difficult for the patient to keep.
After examining the lump on Anthony's neck, Ellen was concerned and asked him to come to St. Ben’s Clinic for further evaluation.
There, he met with Sara Zirbel, a nurse practitioner, who was similarly worried and referred him to Dr. Gretchen Durkin, an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist.
Dr. Durkin returned with the diagnosis: cancer.
Although he was without financial support – diagnostic testing was funded through a form of financial assistance charity care at Columbia St. Mary’s – Anthony had the courage to forge ahead through treatment planning and implementation.
Anthony is grateful for the care he received
and for his reconcilliation with his father.
Each year, thousands of patients receive care at the hands of the staff and volunteers of St. Ben's Clinic.
It was at this time Anthony decided to call his father, from whom he had been estranged, and ask if he could stop by to tell him about his health problems.
With the renewed support of his father, Anthony made his way through the 35 radiation treatments and two rounds of chemotherapy.
His stress over treatment costs was relieved when the St. Ben’s Clinic social worker referred him to a Columbia St. Mary’s financial counselor for help in receiving medical assistance for his ongoing care.
“This was all through the grace of God. It was like a miracle,” Anthony says. “I haven’t earned any of this. It was all through God’s mercy.”
For their part, the St. Ben’s Clinic staff is thankful they could be there and be part of God’s plan for Anthony.
You, too, can help patients like Anthony. Click the button below to make a donation in support of St. Ben's Clinic.