Students Open Free Health Clinic in the Mission
SF State and UCSF Students Reach Out to the Community; Students Open a Free Primary Care Clinic in the Mission District
February 4, 2007 1:57 PM
There are approximately 82,000 San Franciscans, between the ages of 18-65, without health insurance. SF State and UCSF students are hoping to do their part to alleviate the problem by opening a free primary care clinic in the Mission district.
Clínica Martín-Baró, an endeavor that has been in the making for the past two and half years, officially opened its doors on Jan. 27. The result is a cohesive undertaking where SF State Raza studies undergrads and UCSF medical students learn from each other while giving back to the community.
“Our mission is to provide free medical primary care services, in addition to social and mental services, to the uninsured and underserved people in the Mission district,” said Bonnie Hom, co-chair of the Pharmacy Committee and Grant Writing Committee member. “As well as train medical and undergraduate students in preparation for the health care field.”
The idea for the clinic spawned from a Latino Health Care Perspective class, taught by Professor Felix Kury at SF State, in the Raza studies department.
In his class, Raza 210, Kury teaches his students about the environmental and social factors that leave certain demographics vulnerable to health and mental conditions, such as depression and post traumatic stress disorder. Through his teaching Kury derived a sense of obligation.
“Healthcare should be a right,” said Kury. "We're not doing charity."
All participants in the program are volunteers. Undergraduate SF State students work the patient intake process, where they check blood pressure, glucose levels and vital signs. Along with performing these tasks, students get on-the-job training and exposure to the health care industry.
“First year medical students don’t know as much as some of our undergraduate volunteers,” said Kury.
The program thrives solely on grants, donations and fund raising efforts.
“I don’t know what we would do without Council Connections,” said Tatianne Velo, CSU Fullerton alumna, and a long-standing volunteer with the project. ”Community centers would not survive without it.”
Volunteers also attend grant writing seminars at the SF Foundation Center, and do additional research to see what types of grants the clinic might qualify for. The writing process can be grueling, taking 40-50 hours to compose a single grant.
Students from the Raza studies department further contribute by hosting fund raising events, consisting of optional-donation movie nights in the basement of the Cesar Chavez Student Center, and an upcoming hip-hop night to be held on Thursday, Feb. 8. Through their fund raising efforts, students have raised over $10,000 in the past two and a half years.
Volunteers have gotten involved with the program for different reasons.
Clinic Co-Director Zoel Quinonez, who was a Raza studies student at SF State for one year, essentially grew up around the corner from Clínica Martín-Baró. As he attended medical school at UCSF he often wondered if other med students had philanthropic aspirations, knowing that he wanted to play a positive role in the area where he spent his youth.
“For me it was like coming home,” said Quinonez, in reference to the clinic. “It has always been a goal of mine to come back to the community.”
For social work intern Leslie Calhoun, who is a student at SF State, the premise of the clinic piqued her interest.
“I have a passion for immigration and immigration rights,” said Calhoun. “It is really important to me.”
Clínica Martín-Baró is located in the CARACEN building at 1245 Alabama St. and is almost obscured by the formidable black wrought-iron fence that stands before its entrance.
The clinic is open every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is free for those seeking its services; on the condition that they do not have insurance. The staff requests that patients show up at 8 a.m so that they can plan the schedule for the day accordingly.
A patient’s initial consultation is with at least one medical student. From there the students report back to the stand-in supervising medical doctor, describing any inherent medical conditions and ailments.
It may be too early to determine what impact the clinic will have on the community it aims to help, serving just three patients in the second week since its opening, but the staff hopes to build a rapport with its patrons so they will keep coming back.
“We want to earn the patients’ trust,” said SF State alumna and volunteer Veronica Grijalva. “The most exciting part is patient education.”
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