The Brooklyn Free Clinic

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The Problem

Mission: SUNY Downstate College of Medicine is located in the heart of Brooklyn, amidst a growing community of number of immigrants and the working poor, both of whom are ineligible to receive health insurance based on our current American system. One of the goals of SUNY Downstate College of Medicine is to train the physicians of tomorrow, who will not only care for under-served populations in our communities, but also take a proactive role towards the improvement of our patients’ general access to healthcare. As such, a group of students at the SUNY Downstate College of Medicine have set out to create a free clinic (the “Brooklyn Free Clinic”) in one of the our country’s poorest neighborhoods with the goal of providing free healthcare to immigrants and other community members who are ineligible to receive Publicly-assisted health insurance (Medicare/Medicaid). Program description: Purpose: Through a collaborative effort, uniting the talents and energy of students of Colleges of Medicine, the College of Nursing, and of the College of Health Related Professions at SUNY Downstate, we aim to improve access to comprehensive health services for those in greatest need. The Brooklyn Free Clinic will strive to augment existing health access programs by expanding coverage/access for the uninsured and networking with other institutions to achieve a more effective health care delivery system. In addition, we will identify issues of concern (What does this mean?) in our target population and work to address them. As the only medical school in the borough of Brooklyn, we feel that it is our duty to reach out to our neighbors in the community to help ensure equitable and just distribution of vital health and preventive services including health education and literacy. The Brooklyn Free Clinic is currently conducting community outreach and surveys prior to the clinic’s opening,. This will ensure that the health needs of those who are uninsured within the Brooklyn community are addressed in by our Clinic services. Additionally, it will also ensure continuity of care for our patients. To achieve both of these aims, we will consistently generate and administer surveys in our clinic and integrate that information with that from our volunteers into community-based events such as health fairs, thus.facilitating the community’s needs and available services In addititon, we will generate other educational materials about our organization and distribute this information to existing community-based organizations. At the Brooklyn Free Clinic, health literacy programming will be developed in which trained volunteers will lead informational sessions on topics of interest to the community such as nutrition or diabetes. Implementation: Change needed to solve the issues: Brooklyn (Kings County, NY) has one of largest populations of uninsured people in the country. Additionally, few healthcare options exist for those adult community members ineligible for publicly assisted health insurance. Furthermore, the options that do exist are often associated with hidden costs and long wait times as well.other obstacles that deter patients from receiving the proper medical attention. We The Brooklyn Free Clinic aspires to overcome these barriers to quality healthcare by providing patients with free primary and preventive care supplemented by a pre-established network of specialists willing to provide acre at at no or little or no charge (SUNY Downstate University Hospital). The Brooklyn Free Clinic (BFC) will be located at the site of the exisiting Throop Clinic in the neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, an outpatient clinic of Downstate’s internal medicine department. The Throop Clinic resides within a free-standing building on, and is one of the major providers of primary care services to Central Brooklyn. The University Hospital of Brooklyn, a private hospital associated with Downstate Medical Center, and located on the grounds of the medical schoolwill be the main sources of patient referrals to the BFC. The Throop Clinic operates by charging uninsured patients on a sliding scale. It is our hope to see patients who cannot afford even the reduced fees and/or medications prescribed via the Throop Clinic. The Brooklyn Free Clinic has already established a working relationship with the Throop Clinic and hopes to continue the relationship as the BFC grows in the coming years. Examples of our relationship include the BFC Medical Director dual position as a current attending physician at the Throop Clinic, as well as the Throop Clinic’s commitment to provide basic overhead to the BFC such as basic clinic supplies. Our The BFC community outreach subcommittee is currently working closely with community organizations such as places of worship and community centers, to help us reach additional local underserved populations by identifying specific health needs of the community while simultaneously and to spreading awareness about the Clinic BFC and its potential benefits as a community resource. Our goals are to develop trust and confidence in our prospective patient population and to make them aware of the benefits of our offered services, especially preventive care, which may otherwise not be a top priority for individuals without health insurance or have limited access to healthcare. The strength of the BFC lies in the students training in and emphasis on primary carefor which SUNY Downstate is prides itself. Although current third and fourth-year medical students recieve extensive exposure to primary care through their required rotations, the BFC will offer all third and fourth-year SUNY Downstate medical students the opportunity to care for such a high need risk, low- access populations as we will serve. The directors for both Primary Care (Dr. Miriam Vincent) and Family Practice (Dr. Bourke) have agreed to make it a clinical requirement for each student to serve a minimun of one shift at the BFC. Through this structure, we can ensure a constant supply of medical students to care for the underserved members in our community.

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