03/30/11 Portland, Ore.
They came – she in a wheelchair, he braking her carefully down the concrete ramp into the underground parking structure – because they had both lost employment and health insurance, and were living in their car. The health screening clinic, organized as a collaborative all-student event and led principally by students in the School of Medicine, was the first check up that she had received in a number of months.
The March 6 event, based in and under O’Bryant Square in downtown Portland, is an annual and anticipated component of OHSU’s observance of the national Cover the Uninsured Week. “We registered 284 clients to receive health screenings to evaluate body mass index, vital signs, vision, hearing and the opportunity to talk with a physician,” said Anne Smergalio, one of four second-year medical students who helped organize the clinic. “Events like this are where the rubber meets the road for medical students. It provides students an incredible opportunity to see how the skills we are gaining in the classroom can actually impact people’s lives. More importantly, it builds on the foundation of community outreach that OHSU strives to instill in its students. It’s a great tool for showing us how to put our patients first.”
“This service helps fulfill one of OHSU’s primary missions, outreach, and gives our students an opportunity to see the impact they can have on the health of a community not just an individual.” said Mark Richardson, MD, Dean, School of Medicine.
This year’s clinic added veterinary care to the list of services provided to the homeless and under-insured. Volunteer veterinarians attended to 24 dogs, Medical Teams International’s dental van saw 33 patients, and almost 100 people received free haircuts.
Cover the Uninsured Week at OHSU also saw lectures and panel sessions discussing a range of subjects: care and access in the era of health reform, health care for the homeless and underserved, the single payer system and the role of primary care in expanding coverage of the uninsured. Students also volunteered at the Oregon Food Bank, prepared and served a dinner at the Clarke Center shelter for the homeless, toured Central City Concern’s facilities and discussed issues surrounding medical care and the homeless with CCC’s clients. The week concluded with Hills for Humanity -a trail run and walk supporting SW Community Health Center and the Cover the Uninsured Week programming.
Pictured: First-year medical student Carrie Austin performs a vision screening for a client at the O’Bryant Square health screening clinic. Click here for additional photographs of the screening clinic