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Student-Run Clinic Welcomes Underserved Patients

POSTED ON June 27, 2016

Medical students Noha Eshera (left) and Sophia Ciaravino discuss a patient’s health concerns at the TEACH and CARE clinic.

To complement the services offered at Temple University Hospital, a new, student-run clinic has begun offering after-hours primary care services.

The TEACH and CARE student-run clinic, open to the community from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays in Jones Hall on the Temple Health Sciences Campus, is funded by a generous gift from the Greenfield Foundation. The Greenfield Foundation was founded by Robert K. and Louise Greenfield, both of whom were ardent supporters of Temple’s mission. The foundation supports innovative projects which have a ripple effect beyond the immediate impact of funding.

“We wanted to create an educational program for the students while addressing the needs of our community at the same time,” second-year medical student Vaidahi Patel says. “As an offshoot of Temple’s Emergency Action Corps (TEAC), it’s a great collaboration between Temple and the community. We welcome anyone who could benefit from our services.”

Patel, one of the second-year medical students behind the clinic, sees the new program as a win-win for both the North Philadelphia population and her fellow medical students. Part of the clinic’s name, CARE, sums up the clinic’s goal of “community health, advocacy, referral and education.”

Under the direct supervision of a Temple physician – Gina Simoncini, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine – first- and second-year medical students take patient histories and provide basic health screenings, then present that information to Dr. Simoncini, who sees each patient after the students.

The younger students are also supervised by a third- or fourth-year student who benefits from the teaching opportunity.

“It’s a great way for students to practice taking a history and doing some of the physical examinations we learn about in the classroom, but it’s also a good teaching opportunity for third- and fourth-years,” Patel adds. “They’re able to actually start teaching more and practice presenting to the attending. Everybody’s able to hone their skills.”

Patel adds that the TEACH and CARE clinic is offering care beyond “once-and-done” visits.

“We approached Tioga United Church to find out what services could be taken care of by students,” Patel says. “They were looking for after-hours medical care, but we also learned that a portion of the North Philadelphia population doesn’t have health insurance, so we needed a way to link them to care and set them up with insurance to ensure that any healthcare we provide at the clinic isn’t a one-time thing.”

To address this need, the clinic offers a financial counselor to help patients complete paperwork and sign up for insurance so they can continue to access healthcare at Temple or elsewhere. The clinic has been fully operational since December, and Patel hopes to serve a broader range of patients and, down the road, offer their services to children.

“Currently we can only see patients who are 18 years old or older,” she says. “But we’d like to expand that. We’ve also reached out to a physical therapy student run clinic in order to partner with them. I think we’ll see significant growth as this catches on and becomes more established in the community and at Temple.”