The Affordable Care Act has expanded health insurance to 44 million Americans.

It’s a positive for the underserved population but gaps in health care remain.

“We’re committed to finding and assisting where the greatest need is,” says Tami Adams, medical outreach nurse manager for St. Raphael. “We’re trying to figure out where the gaps are and make sure people aren’t falling through.”

At St. Raphael, a social services agency of Mercy Health, health-care inclusion hasn’t silenced a call for volunteers.

Whether patients haven’t signed up for insurance yet, are unable to afford a procedure or have fallen through the cracks, St. Raphael remains committed to helping the underserved population in Butler County.

The Hamilton-based facility is rallying medical professionals to volunteer their time and narrow the disparity in care among Butler County’s at-risk population.

The outreach service is looking for health-care practitioners to serve the community in a variety of capacities, including pharmacy services, physician’s assistance, family medicine, nursing, clerical work and more.

“If someone feels the need to explore, we have an array of opportunities that we can connect them with,” says Adams.

For 71 years, St. Raphael has assisted medically underserved residents. The center now helps individuals and families with an annual income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

St. Raphael had 15 medical volunteers in 2013 and looks to double that number in 2014. The medical outreach agency offered 829 medical appointments for individuals who were low income and uninsured last year.

Even with expanded coverage, St. Raphael still treats patients waiting for their insurance to kick-in or those who are 
unable to finance insurance. If patients have signed up, processing health-care paperwork can take up to four months, which is especially troublesome for people in dire need of medication.

Fortunately, St. Raphael, with support from the Butler County United Way, has a program that helps fill prescriptions. After intake and eligibility is met, the prescription drug program enables qualified clients to receive prescriptions without forgoing monthly rent, grocery visits or utility bills. St. Raphael works with St. Vincent DePaul, which helps provide financial assistance for individuals purchasing medication at local pharmacies.

In addition to the pharmaceutical assistance, St. Raphael’s food pantry will continue to feed hungry families and individuals. Assisted by a case manager, clients can walk through the food pantry and obtain groceries, personal hygiene items and basic household necessities. More than 2,000 families benefit from this program each year.

“We’re a lot of things to a lot of people,” says Adams. “We try not to just focus on one aspect of the people we help.”

For more information on volunteering at St. Raphael, call 513-603-8200.