Meeting Needs Of The Underserved
Feb. 12, 2021
SHSU Media Contact: Wes Hamilton
Sam Houston State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine takes a holistic approach to teaching healthcare and addressing the shortage of primary care physicians in Texas by seeking out underserved populations in need.
In keeping with that mission, SHSU created a monthly community medical outreach day in partnership with the Montgomery County homeless coalition and the Conroe Salvation Army. During the second Saturday of each month, Osteopathic medical students and faculty from Sam Houston State are committing their mornings to helping others.
SHSU-COM kicked off this initiative with students attending to an underserved population and meeting many people in critical need of care right away.
"We want to be able to serve all the needs of our community. This is what students go into healthcare for, to be able to help people in need."
Students and faculty administered healthcare through general first aid, health education and heart disease risk screenings including cholesterol, glucose, and blood pressure measurement.
“We helped one person find immediate shelter and healthcare, keeping him out of the emergency room,” Jimenez said. “Others signed up for community assistance, including Medicare and Medicaid, and we referred several to local community health centers for chronic disease management. We also diagnosed a new diabetic, a potentially serious medication error, and others with serious high blood pressure and cholesterol issues.”
Jimenez plans to advance this community outreach as the College of Osteopathic Medicine continues to expand with each new class of Bearkat student doctors. The SHSU School of Nursing will also be involved in future events, as Jimenez sees this monthly service as a great way to get all healthcare students firsthand experience in the field.
“We would love to have this community medical outreach grow. We want to be able to serve all the needs of our community,” Jimenez said. “This is what students go into healthcare for, to be able to help people in need. It does a lot for advancing their education as well, because it helps to put the things that they are learning in the classroom into their hands right away. Being able to diagnose someone on the spot helps build confidence in what they are learning. It also helps to build a sense of community among our Bearkats.”
The College of Osteopathic Medicine, which welcomed its first class in August, opened its new campus in Conroe this school year with a class of 75 students. In the next two years, the college expects to double that number to 150 to meet its full capacity. As the school grows, so can these pop-up clinics that Jimenez said they expect to keep offering regularly.
Over the next five years, Jimenez said the school hopes to be able to open a mobile clinic with basic medical services like COVID screening, vision and hearing screenings, taking vitals, cholesterol and blood sugar tests, and taking height and weight. But along with basic medical services, these pop-up clinics will be a chance to connect clients with other services to meet basic needs. The future mobile unit is a big part of these plans, Jimenez said. Once the unit is up and running, likely grant-funded, it could be operational from Beaumont to Corpus Christi.
Service organizations from around the county will be available at the clinics to conduct needs assessments and get clients signed up for the services they can benefit from. Groups like Children’s Books on Wheels will be signing people up for Medicare and Medicaid, and the hospital district will help sign people up for health care services when they don’t qualify for Medicare or Medicaid.
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