CH resident brings free medical care to NE Ohio via Medworks
Zac Ponsky, a Cleveland Heights native, was sharing a beer with fellow volunteers after a day of service with a medical brigade in Honduras. His brother, Lee Ponsky, had started Medwish, a nonprofit that repurposes discarded medical supplies and equipment to provide humanitarian aid in developing countries. Despite the positive results of the day, Ponsky found himself wondering why “this type of medical charity was happening halfway across the world but not in my own backyard.”
From this idea, Medworks was born. Medworks, founded in 2009, is a local nonprofit that offers 100-percent free medical, dental and vision clinics to the medically underserved in Northeast Ohio.
The launch of Medworks was not without its bumps in the road. One of Medworks' first mass health clinics, projected to serve more than 5,000 patients at the Berea Fairgrounds, was canceled because it was planned during the height of the H1N1 (swine flu) outbreak.
Since then, Medworks has hosted 48 medical clinics, serving more than 13,000 patients in locations throughout Greater Cleveland. All services are free, which is made possible by Medworks team of more than 3,000 medical and support volunteers.
On June 23 and 24, Medworks will host a large-scale dental clinic to provide free dental care to more than 1,000 patients at the Cleveland Convention Center. Dental care is the number one unmet health need for children and low-income adults in Ohio.
“The lack of access to affordable dental care has reached crisis levels and something had to be done,” said Ponsky.
This clinic is the first event of its kind in Northeast Ohio, and will offer dental exams, cleanings, extractions, temporary partials for adults, and sealants for children.
All services are free, and no advance registration nor proof of eligibility is required. Patients will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis, and are advised to arrive early. Doors open at 7 A.M.
Zac Ponsky lives in Cleveland Heights with his wife, Taryn, and their two sons. Ponsky works for his family development firm, Midwest Development Partners.
While not a doctor himself, Ponsky comes from a family of doctors. His brother, Lee, is chief of the Division of Urologic Oncology at University Hospitals; his brother, Todd, is a pediatric surgeon at Akron Children’s Hospital; and his father, Jeffrey Ponsky, is a general surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic.
The family has attended every Medworks clinic since the organization formed. Taryn Ponsky volunteers as a social worker, and their two young sons are mainstays at the clinics. Ponsky’s parents and his siblings are actively involved with the clinics and the organization.
Tonya Passarelli is a Cleveland Heights resident and a consultant and volunteer for Medworks.