“Such a Blessing”
City Mission Offers Drug-free Pain Relief to Residents
The waiting room was full, almost overflowing with City Mission residents waiting to get relief from their pain. Every Wednesday, the City Mission Medical Center becomes the Drug-free Pain Management Clinic, where residents receive drug-free pain treatments from licensed medical professionals.
“Our goal is to help people manage their pain,” said Cyndi Urbanowicz, a retired flight nurse and one of the medical volunteers at the clinic. “Unfortunately, most of the residents we see have chronic pain. We’re helping to decrease their pain and other symptoms.” Sadly, the need for a drug-free pain management clinic like the one at City Mission is overwhelming. More than 30% of all Americans have some form of acute or chronic pain, and pain-relieving opioids are now the most commonly-prescribed class of medications in the United States.
Dave, a current City Mission resident, comes to the clinic every week for relief from his chronic neck pain. “It’s just such a blessing,” Dave said. “When I think of what City Mission is providing for me here, it brings tears to my eyes.”
When Dave was in high school, he was a star athlete, earning a baseball scholarship to college. In his Senior year, he blew out his knee, which required extensive surgery. “My knee has never been the same,” he said. “It still gives me trouble to this day.” Unfortunately, a few years later, his health deteriorated even further. He started experiencing pain, stiffness, and loss of motion in his neck. “It was very painful just doing basic things,” he said. “That’s really what got my addiction rolling.” To combat the pain of the degenerative spine disorder that was slowly fusing together the vertebrae in Dave’s neck, his doctor prescribed pain-relieving opioids. As his condition declined, he needed more and more drugs to keep up with the pain. Eventually, the prescribed medication stopped working altogether, and he turned to street drugs.
His addiction caused him to lose his job, his home, and what was left of his family. Sadly, Dave’s story is all too common. In 2016, American healthcare providers wrote 214 million prescriptions for opioid pain medications, which is a rate of over 66 opioid prescriptions for every 100 Americans. In that same year, more than 40% of all opioid overdose deaths involved prescription opioids. This is a serious and a growing problem in our country and our community. The drug-free pain management clinic is one of City Mission’s newest ways to fightback.
Thankfully, for Dave, he came to City Mission a little over a year ago. He has been clean for sixteen months and, as a Resident Assistant, has become a trusted and responsible part of the City Mission team. When the Drug-free Pain Management Clinic opened several months ago, Dave finally began to get the pain relief he desperately needed. “I struggle,” he said. “It can be miserable some days. And I have trouble sleeping nearly every night. I’ll be exhausted, but I just can’t get comfortable enough to sleep.”
“But,” he continued. “the best nights of sleep I get are after my sessions at the clinic. It relaxes me so much, I’ll go to sleep almost immediately and sleep for hours. It makes a world of difference.” Dave receives several different types of treatment at the Clinic including physical therapy, positional release therapy, Alpha-stim, and prayer.
First, he goes to physical therapy, administered by Dr. Nathan Romesburg,who owns Romesburg Physical Therapy and Sports Fitness in Washington. For Dave, Dr. Romesburg, who volunteers his services at the Mission, focuses on stretching and exercising his neck, working to relieve pain and restore range of motion.
Next, Dave moves to Positional Release Therapy with Dr. Paula Turocy, who is the Director of Pre-Medical and Health Professions Programs at Duquesne University. She volunteers her time every Wednesday to provide a drug-free alternative therapy. The treatment works, she explains, by “moving the body into positions of comfort” which naturally“‘turns down’ the intensity of activity in the pain receptors in the body.”
After that, Dave undergoes Alpha-Stim Therapy administered by Cyndi Urbanowicz, who was one of the creators of the City Mission Drug-free Pain Management Clinic’s treatment program. Alpha-Stim therapy applies a very low-level current of electricity to the site of the pain, which can regulate the signals within nerve cells to create lasting and significant pain relief. “Dave is our spokesman for the Alpha-Stim,” said Urbanowicz. “He tells everybody about it. The biggest difference I see the treatment making for him is his range of motion, but in addition to relieving pain, the alpha-stim reduces anxiety and helps with better sleep. Lack of sleep can make everything worse.”
Urbanowicz is working to submit a formal request to get a personal Alpha-Stim device donated for Dave, so he can use it whenever he needs relief, which will be a great thing for him, because the more he uses the device, the more effective it will be to treat his pain. She explained, “If Dave had access to his own personal device, he would be able to reduce his pain throughout the entire week and he’d be able to have consistent good sleep.” A personal Alpha-Stim device could be a revelation for Dave in his struggle against the chronic pain he has suffered with for years.
Finally, Dave receives spiritual facilitation from Cathy Orient, who prays over each resident between their treatments. Orient records Dave’s requests in a notebook and promises to pray for him throughout the week. She takes a moment during Dave’s treatment to pray for him to get the rest he needs.
All of these treatments are effective for a wide range of ages and conditions. They have no significant side effects and offer zero threat of addiction. They are also cumulative. “At first, the relief only lasted a day or so,” Dave explained. “Now that I’ve been going a few months, it’s lasting into the weekend. Hopefully, at some point, it will last from week to week.”
Dave is rebuilding his life physically and spiritually at City Mission. “I was in tip top shape my whole life,” he said. “Things just slowly got worse and worse for me, but I believe it all happened for a reason. I’m grateful to be here at the Mission. I hope that some day I’ll be able to work a full-time job and contribute to society again.”
opportunities to serve your community.
Finding Ways to Help
Finding Ways to Help Although rising Covid numbers in our area along with some positive cases among our staff and resident population have caused us to temporarily close our Warming Center and Cold Weather Shelter, we are still finding ways to help those in need during these, cold, winter months. "No one is going to get turned away," said City Mission President/CEO, Dean Gartland. “We’re working diligently to keep people safe and warm.” For those in need of emergency shelter in the cold weather, we work to find alternative solutions. We refer them to county agencies and other shelters, make phone calls on their behalf, purchase bus tickets, and offer transportation for those we cannot keep in our shelters overnight. We also contact other local agencies who may be able to help, and when necessary, we secure hotel rooms for those in need until a long-term solution can be found. “But if it’s the end of the day, or the weekend, and they can’t connect with the county resources, we are the people who bridge that gap,” said Gartland. In addition to these resources, we also offer hot meals, warm clothes, blankets, toiletries, canned food, and possibly even medical care to those who come to us for help. The safety of everyone in the community is our top priority, and we are working hard to help those in need while also doing our very best to keep staff, residents, volunteers, and the community healthy and safe. “Unfortunately, the cold weather came at the same time Covid is spiking,” said Gartland. “But we’re still going to make sure that everyone’s needs are met.” If you or anyone you know need help to stay out of the cold this winter, please continue to reach out to us at 724-222-8530. We are here to help during this difficult time.
Common Ailments Among the Homeless
The homeless population in Pennsylvania is recorded to be over 13,000 people. This includes families, veterans, young adults (aged 18 to 24), and those experiencing chronic homelessness. These are people who may be experiencing problems like lack of affordable housing and poverty, among other things. This is a serious problem, but you can help. Homelessness also brings about serious consequences to overall health and well-being. And as it is very likely that those who are experiencing homelessness would not be able to afford healthcare, the smallest gestures and assistance can go a long way. As Director of Residential Programs Leah Dietrich explains, "One of the largest challenges is access. Homeless individuals are often transient and can't consistently access healthcare and mental health treatment. It takes time and resources like insurance and transportation. Many times, individuals will feel they have no options beyond emergency care, which doesn't allow for underlying concerns to be addressed as would be covered in a PCP or counseling appointment." One way you can help is by learning about the pervasive health issues among the homeless and understanding what you can do. Common Ailments It is very common for people experiencing homelessness to fall ill as they are exposed to increased stress, have unstable sources for food, and stay in unsanitary living conditions – all with limited access to healthcare. Here are the common ailments for those experiencing homelessness: Wounds and Skin Infections This can happen to people who have no homes because they are often outdoors and exposed to the elements. In turn, this leaves them vulnerable to wounds which can lead to infections if not cleaned and treated properly. Malnutrition When someone is homeless, they might not have a steady source of food. This can lead to them not eating enough or having access to food with enough nutrients to keep them healthy. That is why they are more susceptible to malnutrition. This problem can lead to more (chronic) health issues, such as liver disease, heart disease, and secondary malnutrition in the long run if not addressed. Hepatitis People experiencing homelessness who contract hepatitis tend to struggle to get the right treatment. "Hepatitis C cases occur consistently in our population. Lack of access to testing can often lead to positive cases going untreated. Individuals with hepatitis C can develop cirrhosis or scarring of the liver over time. As a part of our intake, we screen for Hepatitis C and connect anyone with a positive test to Central Outreach for treatment. This partnership also provides us with the testing supplies for HIB testing," Dietrich says. The CDC also recommends greater access to vaccines to control hepatitis from spreading. Mental Health Problems Homelessness can also cause extreme stress, trauma, anxiety, and depression. These are serious mental conditions that, if not tended to, can cause physical manifestations. Another way mental health struggles are apparent in those who experience homelessness is when substance abuse enters the equation. Dietrich explained how addiction can develop in our residents: "Self-medication often occurs unintentionally as substances seem to take pain away or give a leveling-out effect, and then the addiction takes off. Other times, our residents are introduced to medications that become habit-forming after surgery, and then the addiction grows." In many cases, seeking psychiatric care might be difficult due to reasons like cost, stigma, and inaccessibility. How You Can Help Give Donations Community lawyer Diane O'Connell says that donations allow the homeless to maintain their autonomy, and that providing them with living essentials preserves their dignity. Because people experiencing homelessness often lack a steady source of income, they may not be able to acquire essentials like food, clothes, or medicine. Being able to supply these basic needs may be able to tide them through tough times. These donations may seem like a simple act, but they make a huge difference, especially since the transportation to acquire such resources may be difficult to find. Connect them to a Medical Professional Being able to give medical care to the homeless is another way you can assist them. Though healthcare can be expensive, some places and people offer their services pro bono or at discounted rates. There are many resources on the internet to be able to find these services too. Most people who experience homelessness can have access to the internet via community resources such as libraries, shelters, and charities. They can go online and contact these health professionals found by you. Online, they can consult with nurses with doctorate degrees who are specially trained in advanced medical issues. More importantly, these nurses have adequate public health experience, so they not only treat ailments at a surface level but also address the health implications of homelessness. Similarly, they can also consult with a charity physician if their sickness requires more complicated treatments like surgery. In order to help them, you will have to set up the online meeting and guide them through it. But by simply giving them the chance to speak to a medical professional you will be offering a great service. Specifically, people who are homeless can get in touch with Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC). Dietrich highlights how these centers are "federally funded to allow for an access point for the uninsured and underinsured in the community. They serve as a bridge from homelessness and other underserved individuals to the health care system. Because of the transient nature of the homeless, medical providers can become frustrated with the lack of follow-up from the patient, but FQHCs and their providers are more flexible and understanding. Our relationship with Centerville Clinics has allowed our residents to build their comfort with medical providers and discover and address underlying conditions in a safe environment." Doing Volunteer Work If you are looking for ways to be proactive in helping those who are homeless, volunteering is a great way to do so. You can volunteer for organizations like City Mission whose main goal is to care for homeless people as they aim to make a real difference in their lives. These organizations may do different things like offer shelter, have soup kitchens, and hold fundraisers intended to help those in need. By joining, you can assist them in these charitable efforts and initiatives in your community. Helping out those who are affected by homelessness is extremely important and necessary. These are people whose circumstances may be dire and the little bit of assistance you give can go a long way. Written exclusively for citymission.org Written by Jessie Calix
"A Firm Place to Stand"
On Monday at City Mission’s weekly chapel service, Chief Operating Officer, Brian Johansson, paid tribute to the twentieth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center first by honoring the veterans in our residential program who have faithfully served to protect our nation and then by telling the story of his own personal encounters in New York City on that day. On September 11, 2001, Johansson was the Director of the Bowery Mission, the third oldest Christian rescue mission in the US, just 10 blocks from the site of the World Trade Center. He was commuting to work that day, but the subways stopped running, all the bridges into the city shut down, and the traffic backed up for miles. Determined to help during the crisis, he found a place to park his car, and he walked over the 59th Street Bridge from Queens into the city while most New Yorkers were scrambling to get out. It took him nearly 4 hours to walk to work through all the chaos in the aftermath of the attack. When he finally made it to the Bowery that day, there were 50 people, covered in dirt, praying and crying inside the Mission’s historic chapel. He and the staff at the Bowery Mission ministered to and prayed with the victims, survivors, and the loved ones of those who were lost. Johansson, a native New Yorker, grew up the son of a pastor in a blue-collar neighborhood, playing stickball in the street with his friends. “We played stickball games where the manhole cover was first base,” he said, recalling those times in his life for the Mission’s residents and staff. “The Twin Towers were part of my childhood,” he added. “I saw them every day.” Many of those friends he played stickball with grew up to be New York City policemen and fire fighters who have their own firsthand accounts of that day. But Johansson’s story is a little different. He dreamed of becoming a New York City police officer, and after college, he even applied for entrance into the academy, but around that same time, he and his wife, Peggy, began to feel a calling to help the homeless. Every Wednesday, they would pack up some food and drive around New York City ministering to the street homeless. “In 1992, I got a letter of acceptance into the police academy – something I had been dreaming about ever since I was a kid,” Johansson remembered. But that very same week, he also received a letter from the Bowery Mission asking him to be the Director of their Transitional Center, which offers transitional housing for men who have graduated the Mission’s residential recovery program. After much prayer and soul-searching, he decided to follow God’s calling to serve the homeless at the Bowery Mission. By September of 2001, he had been promoted to the Director of the Bowery Mission, the position he held at the time of the attacks. In addition to his duties as the Director of the Mission, Johansson also volunteered as a New York state chaplain, a role he performed for 15 years. As a chaplain, he helped at both Ground Zero and the Park Avenue Armory. At the Armory, he prayed with families who desperately waited for news of their missing loved ones as the search for victims continued. Johansson recalled the despair and confusion of those days just after the attack. “Where there once was a straight and square building, there was now nothing but chaos and rubble. When you were standing at Ground Zero, you couldn’t tell east from west or north from south or up from down.” But he also remembered a message of hope from Psalm 40 that helped bring peace to many grieving families in the midst of all that chaos and suffering. “I cried out to the Lord, and He heard my cry. He lifted me out of the miry pit and set my feet on a rock. He gave me a firm place to stand.” And he encouraged the staff and residents of City Mission with that same passage. “We’ve all had little 9/11’s in our own lives,” he said. “We’ve all had tragedies, challenges, difficulties – whether it’s losing a loved one or struggling with addiction. We’ve all had something. Our response in those situations must be to draw nearer to God. It’s an opportunity for us to come to know Him more deeply. Don’t miss that opportunity.” “You may be in the midst of it right now,” he added. “You can’t tell left from right or up from down. The glass is broken all around. The beams are melting. Your world is turned upside-down. But if you just cry out to God. He will hear your prayer.” There are men, women, children, and veterans at City Mission right now who are hurting. Find out what you can do to help them today at www.citymission.org.
Legal Systems Support Services - Learn more
Learn more about getting legal help from Southwestern PA Legal Aid:
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“Keep Looking Forward”
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We’re All In This Together
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Happy Earth Day, Everyday at City Mission
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Pop-Up Pantries in Four Locations
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City Mission Still Open and Helping Homeless and Community
Dear Friends,Thank you for your continued support of City Mission. With all that is going on today, we need you now more than ever. As a valued partner providing to those in need, we want to make sure we share the latest of what is being done, especially regarding the Coronavirus. You may have seen in our recent communications, City Mission is taking precautions to protect our vulnerable population of residents and to help mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus.
Tips for De-Cluttering
Spring is only a week away, and as the temperature warms, many people are motivated to embark on annual spring-cleaning rituals. After several months of living with doors and windows closed, both dust and possessions have accumulated in our homes, and now is the perfect time to try to reduce both. Along with the typical spring-cleaning tasks, such as having rugs and draperies cleaned, laundering mattress covers and pillows, and clearing out unwanted items from closets, you might also consider the following clutter culprits as prime targets for removal during your cleanup.
Tax Strategies to Benefit both Donor and City Mission
If you are a high-income senior citizen who donates to City Mission, are you taking advantage of a great tax loophole to maximize your gift? Clients across the country are using this strategy to enhance their charitable giving, especially since the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act practically eliminated the need to itemize.As you know, once you have hit the "magic age" of 70 and 1/2, the IRS requires that you take a required minimum distribution on your IRA annually.
It's Time to de-Clutter and Donate!
Are you looking for a place to donate clothing to? Look no further! City Mission Thrift Store will take your clothing donations! You can drop your items off at any one of our seven Store Locations or in one of our City Mission Donation Bins in an area near you. Your Donations Help Change Lives!
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City Mission Lends A Hand to Government Employees
Over 800,000 workers and their families across the US are currently being affected by the Federal Government shutdown. No paycheck means no money for mortgage payments, groceries, or household items. City Mission has recently introduced a 'Show Your Government ID Program' for furloughed or out-of-work federal government employees in Southwestern PA. This program will continue for the duration of the shutdown. Just show your government ID at City Mission, 84 West Wheeling Street, Washington PA , for you and your family to receive:
City Mission Celebrates Grand Opening of Women with Children Shelter
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Twelve Steps & Biblical Comparisons
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How Can I Help the Homeless?
Excerpt from Union Gospel Mission webpage - "How to Help People who are Experiencing Homelessness" 1. Give them food, coupons, or gift certificates, or refer them to a local social service agency. If a person is hungry, offer him/her food, coupons, or gift certificates to nearby restaurants or grocery stores. Or refer him/her to an agency that can provide food and shelter such as a local soup kitchen. Never give out cash. The money you give to “help” that person could be used to buy drugs or alcohol instead.
Recently a resident of City Mission's Life Recovery Program faced the reality of addiction in a letter: To my addiction: Today I realize for the first time with total clarity the damage you’ve done and the intention you have for me. You plan to keep me in bondage to failure, loss, hopelessness and misery, to finish me off in the ultimate bondage of death. For so long you have managed to convince me not to fight for more than anything you allow.
National Vietnam War Veterans Day
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