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Arizona universities unite over student-run homeless clinic

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Courtesy of SHOW

The UA, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University have been working together to open the Student Health Outreach for Wellness, a student-run clinic for homeless people. The clinic is anticipated to officially open in December.

The UA, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University are working together to open an interdisciplinary, student-run clinic for the homeless of Maricopa County.

The program, Student Health Outreach for Wellness, will be run at the Health Care for the Homeless clinic at Phoenix’s Human Services Campus and will also utilize a lot of its services.

The planning for the student-run clinic first began at ASU, which hired Pamela Thompson to create it, according to the The Arizona Republic.

Michelle DiBaise, S.H.O.W. administrative director and associate clinical professor at NAU’s physician assistant program, said Thompson, a Canadian physician, came to the UA to create the S.H.O.W. clinic.

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DiBaise said Thompson made her other connections through the Maricopa County Department of Public Health and various other clinics. As her network began to expand, Thompson started recruiting students to get involved.

DiBaise added that Thompson’s initial intent was to have an interdisciplinary program running in the clinic. Students’ academic disciplines represented in S.H.O.W. include pre-health, nursing, nutrition, occupational therapy, social work and business. DiBaise also said the clinic will have students teaching art and yoga.

“For the last year and a half or so, the students have been working together from all disciplines, as well as undergraduate students, to make this a reality,” DiBaise said. “So every committee has been made up of interdisciplinary teams. That’s been very good for the students to work forward and see everyone bring something to the table.”

While the Health Care for the Homeless clinic runs at normal business hours during the week, the workers behind S.H.O.W. intend to have the clinic as an extension to those hours and will start by operating their clinic on Saturdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

“The homeless population in Central Phoenix knows [about our program],” said Lauren Massimo, a second-year medical student at the UA College of Medicine — Phoenix and member of the Quality Assurance and Research Committee.

Massimo said the business hours of Health Care for the Homeless limits homeless patients from receiving care because they are searching for jobs during business hours and days throughout the week. Massimo added that the workers of the clinic hope to eventually operate on Sundays and weekday evenings as well to fill in the gap that the homeless are missing.

The Quality Assurance and Research Committee puts together surveys and forms that help ensure the clinic is being effective and find ways to improve. The committee accepts university students who are interested in conducting research projects, Massimo said.

Ameya Jategaonkar, a third-year medical student at the UA College of Medicine — Phoenix, was also a part of this committee.

“The two things that they cared about was making sure that our clients that were using the services that we were offering were getting what they came for and were able to benefit from what we were offering,” Jategaonkar said.

S.H.O.W. has other subcommittees that work on a specific aspect of the program.

“It’s pretty darn awesome,” Jategaonkar said. “You can feel the excitement sometimes in the S.H.O.W. meetings when they talk about how far we’ve come in terms of goals and getting accreditations. Now we talk about the logistics of how we’re going to build the team so we have medical students in what they need to do, physical therapy students doing what they need to do, undergrads who are from a wide experience doing what they need to do and just giving everybody a role. So it’s pretty cool talking [about] the logistics about that and scheduling.”

Massimo said one of the reasons she decided to join the program is because she has a big interest in interprofessional education and believes it is important the healthcare field operates in that way.

“That’s another thing that I’m excited to see once the clinic actually opens: how all of the various types of healthcare students are going to collaborate and work together and learn from each other to best care for the patients,” Massimo said.

DiBaise said S.H.O.W. is currently in the final stages of getting the application sent in and anticipates the clinic will open in December.

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