Thursday, October 24, 2019

Soup Kitchen Docs Hope to Thwart 'Silent Killers'

Dr. Mark Warfel and Nancy Robert
Dr. Mark Warfel (left) and Nancy Robert (right).
People who don’t access regular healthcare may suddenly find themselves the victims of silent killers like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

That’s why Dr. Mark Warfel was interested in reaching out to the underserved population through Mother Marianne’s West Side Kitchen (after outreach volunteer Nancy Robert approached him about doing health screenings at the soup kitchen).

Dr. Warfel heads the Mohawk Valley Health System’s St. Elizabeth Family Medicine Residency Program, a three-year residency for doctors who want to be family practitioners.

Four or five of the physicians visit the soup kitchen every four or five weeks. They enjoy interacting with the guests, doing blood pressure screening, and sharing information on diabetes and healthy diets.

“It’s an opportunity to educate people who aren’t getting health care,” Dr. Warfel noted during the soup kitchen’s rededication event on Oct. 9. Three other physicians from the program joined him at the celebration — Drs. Sujitha Amalanayagam, Michael Nemirovsky and Marie Kuehl.

Family Medicine Residency doctors
From left: Drs. Michael Nemirovsky, Mark Warfel, Marie Kueh and Sujitha Amalanayagam
The 45-year-old Residency Program currently is training 30 physicians and has made a significant impact in the practice of family medicine.

“Fifty percent of the graduates stay in upstate New York,” Dr. Warfel said.

And they’re making a difference at the soup kitchen. They found several guests with “extremely high blood pressure” and were able to refer them for immediate care.

Added Nancy: “Some patrons were recently diagnosed with diabetes, so the information provided is very beneficial to them.”

Dr. Warfel wasn’t sure at first how much interest there would be in going to the soup kitchen. But the docs jumped at the chance.

“We have no problem getting volunteers.”