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Student-run free clinics in San Antonio


July 2008

by Will Sansom

The poor and disenfranchised have many needs today, not least among them compassionate health care where they live.

Health Science Center medical students are learning to provide this class of care in two student-run free clinics in Bexar County – one offered to women at the Alpha Home chemical dependency treatment center and the other to homeless families at the San Antonio Metropolitan Ministries (SAMM) Transitional Living and Learning Center.

In these weekly clinics, students learn to care for individuals in the persons’ own environment and treat health issues before they escalate and require an expensive and lengthy visit to an emergency room.

"It is incredibly encouraging to see families and individuals, who have experienced so much hardship in life, band together and help one another get back on track," says Leonard Chow, M.D., a 2008 School of Medicine graduate.

Brett Norman provides medication for a patient diagnosed with strep throat
"The student-run clinics inspire our students to provide compassionate, non-judgmental health care to people with the greatest need for help," says the clinics’ faculty adviser, Richard Usatine, M.D., professor of Family Medicine and assistant director of Humanities Education at the Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics. "This caring brings out the best in the human spirit as students learn to give so openly with their hearts and minds."

  • Nearly 800 patients have been served through the SAMM and Alpha Home clinics in approximately 18 months. The clinics are funded by grants from the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation, the Marcia and Otto Koehler Foundation, the Genevieve and Ward Orsinger Foundation, and through support from the Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics.
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