In 1993, in response to the large population of people without health care insurance but did not qualify for Medicaid benefits, a group of physicians, nurses and other volunteers started a health care ministry in Utica's inner city. It has a walk-in setting and many of the patients are referred by the local soup kitchen, food pantry and thrift shop, as well as other nonprofit agencies, local drug/alcohol rehabilitation programs, school nurses, and country departments of social services. Many patients are refugees, parolees, discharged psychiatric patients, and laborers affected by a hurt economy.
The services provided range from physicals and eye exams to the treatment of emergencies and short-term and chronic illness. Dentures, glasses and hygiene kits are distributed. In addition, down the street is the "Hope House," where these people are fed as part of the Ministry. The Ministry has served about 1,450 people from 30 different communities, their patients ranging from a few weeks to over 80 years old. They see about 50 new patients each month.
Open Mondays and Thursdays from 1-5 p.m. and Saturdays from 12-3 p.m., the Health Care Ministry lives its motto that "in caring for your health, we are caring for you." The volunteers are doctors, dentists, nurses, members of local churches, high school students and others. Donations supply the Ministry's minimal operating budget.