Published on October 14, 2013

Community outreach services at Mercy Philadelphia

Access to healthcare for West and Southwest Philadelphia communities.

Kay StephensYou may have seen Kay Stephens and her team this past summer in Malcolm X Park on Larchwood Avenue, handing out brochures and stopping to chat with folks as they walked past.

Or you might have bumped into her team at Liberty Baptist Church, organizing a talk about how to quit smoking, or offering a free blood-pressure screening.

Kay is the director of Community and Ambulatory Service at Mercy Philadelphia Hospital’s Community Outreach Center, and she’s happiest when she’s helping the people of West and Southwest Philadelphia get healthy and stay that way.

“We’re really about providing access to healthcare and knowledge for people,” says Kay. “We answer questions such as, how do I get a primary-care doctor? What questions do I ask?”

Located at 5352 Cedar Avenue in West Philadelphia, right across from Mercy Philadelphia, the Community Outreach Center is a place for health education, community support groups and classes. But you can also see Kay and her team in churches, community centers and parks.

“We are in lots of places to bring healthcare to you, so you don’t have to go to the hospital,” says Kay. “It’s about access. What you need to know, how to get it.”

Free Screenings

Twice a year, in October and May, the center offers free, comprehensive breast cancer screenings for women without insurance. The screening includes risk assessment, breast self-exam education, mammography and follow-up resources.

“It’s for women who would not have mammograms otherwise – they are not insured, or mammograms are not covered by their insurance,” says Kay. “And we are there when they get their results and we help them get follow-up resources. It’s about paying attention to the person and letting them know: I’m not going to leave you.”

Next year, those same women get a call on their cell phone or a letter mailed home, reminding them to get screened again. Kay aims to reach up to 30 women every time the screening is offered.

Educational Programs

The center also offers comprehensive 6-week diabetes classes taught by an experienced certified diabetes educator.

At the Center you’ll also find an annual flu immunization program that is held in November for residents 65 years of age or older and a stroke program that includes early symptom recognition and diabetes education classes.

The Center also hosts regular “Dine with the Docs” sessions, which are open to the community to sit, enjoy lunch and hear a Mercy physician share medical information “It’s wonderful—we have standing room only most of the time,” says Kay. “There are lots of questions, lots of interaction with the doctors. Being informed makes people so engaged in their own healthcare, and what’s going on in their own bodies. They become their best advocates for their own health.”