OHSU students provide free health care screenings to 275 people
Nancy Nguyen, MS2
"You could not help but recognize the positive energy and compassionate concerns of volunteers trying to do all they can to help."
When student and faculty volunteers arrived at the O'Bryant Square parking garage at 7:30 a.m. to set up tables for this year's Health Care Equality Week (formerly known as Covered the Uninsured Week), they found a long line of people already waiting in the rain to get care. By the time the health screening fair started at 9 a.m., the line stretched around the block. Most of those standing in the rain had no insurance; many hadn't seen a physician or dentist in years.
Over the next four hours, 275 underserved Oregonians—and 27 dogs and cats—received free screenings from more than 120 OHSU medical, dental, nursing and pharmacy students and faculty members.
"Many of us who volunteered were amazed by the number of people who came for care," said Andy Dworkin, MS2. "It's great we were able to help so many people. But it's sad that so many still lack access to regular, decent health care that they'll wait hours in the rain for a shot at getting basic health care in a parking garage."
"You could sense how grateful the clients and patients were for the services provided," said Nancy Nguyen, MS2. "And you could not help but recognize the positive energy and compassionate concerns of volunteers trying to do all they can to help."
Basic hygiene supplies and an array of health care services were available, including blood pressure and temperature checks, vaccinations, and hearing, vision and oral health screenings. People with significant vision or oral health problems were referred to two dental vans and a Casey Eye Institute mobile clinic parked along O'Bryant Square.
Eighty-four people received consultations with the faculty physicians who were also volunteering at the clinic. Patients with more complex medical conditions received referrals to outside physicians who agreed in advance to donate their time and services.
The health fair was planned primarily by students. "The effort was one of the most profound interprofessional interactions many students have had at OHSU," said Dworkin. "Organizers spent months planning details, raising money, soliciting volunteers and gathering permits."
"The event was a huge success both for the students and the patients," said Nathan Defrees, MS2. "As for the students, we were able to collaborate with different disciplines in a unique and meaningful way while learning about the great need for health care evident in our community."
Participating on the event's leadership team was a memorable experience for Nguyen. "It was great working with students from the various OHSU health professional schools who shared the same passion in serving the underserved and making the health screening fair come alive," she said.
Students from Oregon State University, Portland State University and the Aveda Institute also helped plan the fair, delivering veterinary care, social service referrals and free haircuts.
Many thanks to the faculty physicians and students who volunteered at the clinic:
Shawn Blanchard, MD
Todd Engstrom, MD
Scott Fields, MD
Paul Gorman, MD, MPH
Scott Sally, MD
Brett White, MD
Daisuke Yamashita, MD
Stephanie Cramer, MD
Jacqueline Ng, MD
Matthew Raecker, MD
Kimberley La Morticella
College of Pharmacy
Rowena Vilches Tran
Janice Van Norman
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