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Arizona university students collaborate to open health clinic for homeless

Students from Arizona’s public universities have teamed up to open the state’s first student-run, multi-university health care clinic for the homeless.

The Student Health Outreach for Wellness (S.H.O.W.) community initiative is a service learning program that brings together more than 150 students and faculty mentors from Arizona State University, the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University to provide free health care and health education at one of Maricopa County’s busiest shelters, providing an alternative to non-emergent hospital visits.

To introduce prospective clients to the services that will be provided at the clinic when it opens this fall, the S.H.O.W. team is hosting a Health Fair for the Homeless from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Sept. 13. Media are invited to attend. The event, co-sponsored by Maricopa Integrated Health System, Central Arizona Shelter Services and others, will take place on the Human Services Campus at 230 S. 12th Ave. in Phoenix.

S.H.O.W. students will provide various health screenings while others will accompany clients through the fair as they visit booths and vendors from community partners such as Native Health, Healthcare for the Homeless and Southwest Behavioral Health. Clients also will have an opportunity to try out services they will be able to access at the S.H.O.W. clinic, such as blood pressure testing, hearing and vision testing, dental care and immunizations.

The S.H.O.W. clinic is a learning laboratory by which students gain real-life experience working interprofessionally to provide health services to the homeless community. Students from diverse backgrounds such as medicine, nutrition, nursing, social work, physical and occupational therapy will work directly with patients to assess, diagnose and provide treatment and follow-up services under the supervision of licensed clinical faculty members from the universities and community providers.

“I’ve been with S.H.O.W. from the beginning and it is inspiring to see all that we have accomplished,” Alex Gojic, student co-director of S.H.O.W. said. “The model of students from all three universities bringing their talent, passion and skills together with the gentle guidance of our faculty and community partners allows us an invaluable opportunity of hands-on learning beyond the classroom, all while providing health and health care services to our vulnerable neighbors. It’s an ambitious and important project that takes all of us to make it a success.”

The clinic will be a separately-licensed entity operating inside the existing Healthcare for the Homeless clinic located on the Human Services Campus in downtown Phoenix. More than 1,100 people visit or receive services from the campus each day, including the health clinic. The S.H.O.W. clinic extends the resources offered to clients by opening its doors during the weekend, when the clinic is normally closed.

S.H.O.W. members hope that by providing care for non-emergent issues, it will decrease the number of non-emergency hospital visits, calls to 911 and reliance on the on-campus EMT services for non-emergencies.

Funding for the S.H.O.W. clinic is provided by a number of sources, including donations from individuals, foundations and corporations, and is accepted by the ASU Foundation, a nonprofit organization, on behalf of S.H.O.W. Financial contributions enable S.H.O.W. to provide quality health care services to the homeless at approximately one third of the projected cost.

The average cost per patient is projected to be $443, of which $310 is comprised of donated time by students, physicians, nurses and other health care providers. The university affiliated health care providers and students are projected to contribute approximately 25,000 hours of volunteer hours of in-kind contributions.

To watch ABC 15’s recent news coverage, click here.

To make a donation or to learn more about S.H.O.W. visit www.showaz.org.

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