Mission of Mercy receives grant to treat more patients with diabetes, hypertension

A nonprofit medical agency that provides mobile health services in Frederick and Brunswick was recently awarded a $15,000 grant to help patients with diabetes and hypertension.

Mission of Mercy was awarded the grant through the CVS Health Foundation and the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, a grassroots organization of mobile health clinics around the country.

The money will allow Mission of Mercy to provide roughly 3,500 medical visits to 1,500 patients in Frederick, and dispense about $4,500 worth of medications, said Jennifer White, the development manager for the charity.

“We are a volunteer organization, and our operating budget for providing free primary health care is about $1 million every single year,” White said. “So this grant is really going to help support our program and patients in Frederick.”

Since Mission of Mercy began providing services in 1997, the agency has served nearly 12,000 patients in Frederick and Brunswick alone, according to executive director Linda Ryan.

Its mobile health clinics serve as a primary care office for uninsured and underinsured patients across the county, most of whom struggle with chronic health problems. Diabetes and hypertension are among the most prevalent, Ryan said.

Roughly half the clients served by Mission of Mercy struggle with those conditions. Hypertension and diabetes are also common health problems across the state. One in 3 Maryland adults has hypertension, more commonly known as high blood pressure, according to the state Department of Health. The condition is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke.

More than 12 percent of adults in Maryland have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.

“Our goal is to serve as a medical home for chronic patients who often don’t have access to reliable medical care,” Ryan said. “That’s really the story of our clients — they suffer from diabetes and hypertension that often leads to more serious diseases.”

Roughly 40 percent of Mission of Mercy’s services are delivered at the agency’s Frederick clinic, according to both Ryan and White. The most recent grant fits in with a larger push to promote hypertension awareness in Maryland.

Twelve counties are participating in a Department of Health pilot program to provide hypertension screening during routine dental visits and refer patients for further care, if necessary.

National data suggests that roughly 20 percent of adults are unaware that they have high blood pressure.

Grants account for about half of the funding Mission of Mercy receives every year, Ryan said. This is the first year that the agency has received the grant from the CVS Health Foundation.

“This is a new grant for us and we’re delighted,” Ryan said. “Obviously, grants are very important to our overall budget, so we’re continuously looking for new funding.”