The medical school students are collaborating with students from Butler University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, the IU School of Medicine Department of Public Health, the IU School of Dentistry and Clarian Health to provide free urgent care to the needy. The clinic will operate from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays at the Neighborhood Fellowship Church, 3102 E. 10th Street.
A grand opening is planned from 11 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Aug. 1, at the church and tours of the clinic will be available.
The clinic was the brainchild of a small group of current fourth-year medical students working with direction from faculty advisor Javier Sevilla, M.D., associate professor of family medicine. Organizing and planning the opening of the clinic was an education in itself. The students have written grants, solicited financial donations, gathered supplies, engaged volunteer staff, and developed collaborative relationships with the students in other health professions.
“This is a unique venture in the state of Indiana,” said Raymund D. Ramirez, a fourth-year medical student who is a member of the promotions committee for the clinic. “There are other student-run clinics in the country such as in San Diego and in Texas, but there have yet to be any clinics in the Hoosier state that are fully operated by students.”
First- and second-year medical student volunteers will assess or triage patients – taking blood pressures and weighing patients – while third- and fourth-year students, who have had more clinic experience and training, will provide care under the guidance of volunteer staff doctors from the IU School of Medicine departments of family medicine, internal medicine or pediatrics.
Butler pharmacy students will operate a pharmacy and provide counsel on non-drug therapies and chronic disease prevention. The pharmacy students hope to dispense prescription medication if their plan is approved by the Indiana Board of Pharmacy.
Participants include faculty and students who are fluent in Spanish.
Students in the IU School of Medicine Master of Public Health program are completing a community health needs assessment of the near eastside neighborhoods. The information gathered will assist the clinic in targeting resources toward the needs and interests of community members.
One need that already has been identified is improved access to dental care. The IU School of Dentistry will provide many services to meet this need including free dental supplies and patient education. In the future, the dental students hope to organize free dental screenings and access to more advanced care.
The students hope to expand the services they offer with time, said Kyle Yoder, chairman of the IU Student Outreach Clinic Committee.
“We want to reach out to those who feel they have been let down or turned away from other health care programs,” said Yoder. “Initially, we will only offer urgent care and medical screening services – such as blood pressure checks, well-child checkups, examinations for people with the flu or other short-term conditions.
“We also attempt to provide a gateway for people to access additional sources of health care they may not realize exist or are eligible for. In time, we hope to become a continuity care clinic where we can provide care for chronic health issues such as diabetes, heart disease and other prevalent diseases,” he said.
IU medical students volunteer at other low income clinics in Indianapolis and in other cities where the IU School of Medicine offers classes, but this will be the only opportunity for future health-care professionals to be responsible for all the clinic operations, which was an objective of the 12-member steering committee.
Committee members include fourth-year medical students Chad Katona, Laura Kruter, Chris Muth, Palka Patel, Anne Penner, Raymund Ramirez, Kaitlin Rice, Carrie Rouse, Rachel Smith, Ross Strong, Kyle Yoder and Molly Strong, who is completing a master’s degree in public health.
“The main goal of the clinic is to provide quality, free medical services within a community that needs them,” said Ross Strong, vice chair of the IU Student Outreach Clinic. “Through patient-centered research and advocacy, we hope to allow the community to direct their care in the ways they feel are most appropriate.”
“We have a strong desire to begin to understand and address the problems of our current health-care system at an early point in our medical careers through hands-on experience so that we will be better equipped to effect change in the future,” Yoder said.
The IU Student Outreach Clinic is one of 15 student-initiated and student-led projects sponsored by the IU School of Medicine Office of Medical Service-Learning, whose goal is to foster a lifelong commitment to community service through innovative service-learning projects.
Community members wishing to learn more or get involved with the project can contact clinic leaders at firstname.lastname@example.org.