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Justin Starke (left), a fourth-year medical student at St. Louis University, and Matthew Perryman, a first-year student, talked with patient Deanna Johnson at St. Louis University's Health Resource Center. Photo by Jerry Naunheim.
Saint Louis University Provides Free Health Care through Student-Run Clinic

January 17, 2014 — For 20 years, the Saint Louis University Health Resource Center has provided primary care on the north side of the city to those in need. Operated by Saint Louis University (SLU) medical students under the guidance of SLU doctors, the clinic’s mission can be summed up by the sign in the waiting room: "Serving our community in the Jesuit tradition."

Last year, the center provided free primary health care services for 740 adult patients and 231 pediatric patients, with some patients returning for multiple visits. In addition, the center moved to a new location twice the size of its previous space.

Matthew DeCuffa, one of six second-year medical students on the leadership team, said that the university instills a service component, motivating students to give back to the community.

With the Jesuit tradition and a big push toward service, providing primary care for those who are less fortunate is a good fit, said DeCuffa.

"Our school, the students and physicians, everyone here is invested in providing the best patient care we can," he said. SLU provides basic bloodwork and other tests free of charge, with the volunteer physician reviewing lab results and patients contacted afterward.

Katie Gray, another student lead coordinator, said the clinic is an opportunity for students to be a part of the community, "possibly making a difference in people's lives." She noted that the work has a social justice aspect since people have a right to health care.

First- or second-year medical students are the first ones to see patients, taking their vital signs and medical history. A third- or fourth-year medical student does a physical exam. Then the medical students confer with a volunteer physician-faculty member who reviews cases, answers questions and prescribes medication.

About 90 percent of SLU medical students spend some time volunteering at the clinic. Dr. John E. Morley, who has been the medical director of the clinic for the past 20 years, said, "It's phenomenal that the students have managed to keep it going, just amazing. The quality of care is superb. And it still fills an absolute need in the community."

Deanna Johnson has been coming to the clinic for about 10 years. "They really care for their patients. They provide everything you need to be healthy,” she said. “They help with prescriptions and to find resources to help me take care of myself.” [Source: St. Louis Review]

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