Serving The Communitv, Enlightening Med Students
For more than 30 vears, atwo-wav benefit in Carrboro.
On Wednesday night around six o'clock, after the doctors ;:: at the Carrboro Health Clinic have left for the day, a Si patient walks through double glass doors in search of care. It might be a child whose mother walked with him from their
temporary housing at the homeless shelter to find out what is
causing his cough; or recent immigrant who needs a physical
exam before he can start his new job; or a single parent who
couldn't leave work to visit the clinic during the day.
The catch is, the health clinic doesn't have a second shift.
It's only on Wednesdays that the doors are open past five thirty,
and those who count on the free care and late night hours owe
their gratitude to Carolina students.
With the help of advisors from the UNC Department of
Family Medicine, more than 400 student volunteers from the
schools of medicine, nursing, pharmacy, physical therapy,
dentistry, and public health take turns staffing the Student
Health Action Coalition clinic each week. They provide free,
well-rounded care and a referral service to people who, for
any reason, do not have access to regular health care.
Second-year student Rebecca Sands helps Eric Rodriguez interpret medical
forms at the SHAC clinic.
FOR THE PEOPLE
What UNC is doing for North Carolina-and beyond
"A patient comes in, sees the receptionist, and comes back
to be met by a first year medical student who does the initial
examination;' said David Yale, one of the coordinators for SHAC.
"At that point, depending on what they need, they might see
a physical therapy student, a nursing student or a third or fourth
year medical student."
They face a huge diversity of cases, from people who need
flu shots to teenagers who have contracted sexually transmitted
diseases. Last year the students diagnosed a case of breast
cancer and helped save a life.
One Wednesday evening in February,80-year-old Chapel Hill
resident Ruth Snipes walked into the clinic on the arm of her
daughter. She was there for the annual physical that's required
for everyone in her household since the adoption of her 3-year-
old granddaughter. With so many family members needing
check-ups, Snipes said the clinic was the only affordable option.
Down the clean, white hallway, Eric Rodriquez was explaining
to SHAC translator and medical student Erica Sands that his
children both had sore throats. With Spanish-speaking students
always on hand, the clinic is able to cater to families like
Rodriquez's, who recently moved to the area from Costa Rica.
His wife, Sonya Rodriquez, said because her husband worked
during the day and the family only had one vehicle, they needed
evening health care. She said they were impressed by the stu-
dent's professionalism."Muy Bueno," she said, smiling at Sands.
Faculty adviser Adam Goldstein said SHAC held a dual
purpose - one that has led his family medicine department to
adopt the group as a formal part of its duties at Carolina.
March / April 2000