October 19, 2009

Volunteer Spotlight: The HEALing Clinic

[Today's post was contributed by Bread for the City's Medical Director, Dr. Randi Abramson — ed]

Most evenings around 5 pm, the staff at Bread for the City begins to wrap up their work for the day. But for the past 2 years, the end of our business day has marked the beginning of another program: a special, after-hours session at our medical clinic run by a very energetic and unique group of medical students.

Three years ago, when they were just first-year medical students at George Washington University, Rani Nandiwada, Deb Bear, Jay Chelluri, Irina Fox, and Patrick Lowerre approached Bread for the City and asked if they could run an evening health clinic. They were new to DC and even new to health care. But (along with the help of Lisa Alexander, the Assistant Dean for Community-Based Partnership at the GWU Medical Center) they had a vision in which they would practice medicine as part of their community.

We were thrilled with the idea and the HEALing (Health Education And Learning) clinic was born.

Since the HEALing clinic launched two years ago, a steady flow of enthusiastic GWU medical students have volunteered each week. The students see patients, work in the lab, provide health education, and help out wherever we need them — all in an environment of learning. It was a joy to see the students teach each other, to see the fourth-year students take on leadership roles, and to see the newer students jump right in and share ownership of the clinic.

Given that our community is in a major healthcare crisis in large part because there aren't enough doctors practicing community healthcare, we are proud to say that Bread for the City is a training ground for tomorrow's primary care physicians.

The HEALing clinic is also criticaly important to our client community. Many Bread for the City patients can't come to see a doctor during the day, due to tough work schedules. The HEALing clinic provides yeat another much-needed medical alternative.

Although the original founders of the clinic are graduating this year, they have made certain that the clinic they began can continue long after they have moved on. And so, it was with tremendous gratitude, that we awarded Rani Nandiwada, Deb Bear, Jay Chelluri, Irina Fox, Patrick Lowerre, and Lisa Alexandar a Good Hope Award for their Beyond Bread Community Reformation at our 4th Annual GHA breakfast.

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