The partnership between Southern Ohio Medical Center and Eastern Local Schools made a splash when it was announced at the beginning of this year.
Thus far the collaboration has been beneficial for not only SOMC and Eastern Schools, but also for the surrounding community. A big part of that surrounding community is the large Amish population in the Eastern School District, and the clinic has been a great place for that population to receive care.
Mindful of the importance of being able to serve Amish patients at the new facility, it was brought to the attention of Eastern and SOMC that there was one way to make the facility more accessible for the Amish community who often travel primarily by horse and buggy.
“One of the needs that was shared with the people at the SOMC clinic is that when they come, they aren’t able to travel by horse and buggy because we didn’t have a hitching post for their horses, which makes it difficult for more Amish patients to access our clinic,” said Eastern Superintendent Neil Leist.
After hearing this concern, Leist and his team at Eastern acted quickly and installed a hitching post on campus, which is located directly behind the SOMC clinic at Eastern.
Cindy Balzer of SOMC was the first to hear of the opportunity to make the office more accessible for the population as a whole.
“We had an Amish patient come in to utilize our services, but she was forced to get transportation from someone else because she wasn’t able to bring her horses and leave them unattended,” Balzer said. “We felt that we wanted to make sure all of the people in our area were able to utilize our services at SOMC, and we felt that if we provided this hitching post, the Amish would be able to come here and leave their horse and buggy outside safely while utilizing our services here.”
The people of SOMC as well as Eastern Local Schools want everyone in the community to know that they are welcomed to utilize the medical services they offer at the clinic.
Angela Wells-Coburn is the Administrative Director of Community Relations and Development at Southern Ohio Medical Center. She was present for the unveiling of the new hitching post, and she offered a few comments on SOMC’s commitment to all community members.
“We’re tickled to be a part of this partnership with the school and the family practice center out here,” she said. “We hope the addition of the hitching post is able to break down any barriers there may be with the Amish population and their ability to get to their health appointments and doctor’s visits. We want to do anything we can to break down those barriers and make it easier for them.”
Leist also added that with the addition of the new hitching post, he and his team at Eastern as well as the team at SOMC are issuing an invitation to the Amish community in the surrounding community to come and access the medical facility with the ability to safely and more comfortably use their own means of transportation.
As for an update on the overall state of the clinic at Eastern, school nurse Autumn Risner says it’s been a successful partnership.
“On my side of things, students are getting quicker healthcare and getting treatment faster so they can get back to school and limit absences,” she said.
“It’s also helping our parents with transportation so that they don’t have to take off work to get the ... medical care that they need. We’ve also had a couple emergencies that the people at the clinic have been able to step in and help with so that there isn’t a large amount of wait time and emergencies are limited because of this. Also, the clinic helps students and parents stay up to date with vaccinations, which is very convenient.”
Overall, this partnership seems to help bridge the gap for those unable to access quality and consistent medical care in the community elsewhere, and that’s exactly what the two sides hoped it would do.