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UAB serves those with medical needs through medical student-run, free clinic

Since opening its doors in 2012, the Equal Access Birmingham clinic has served those who would possibly not otherwise receive medical care. The clinic is run by UAB medical students, as well as students from other area schools such as the Samford University School of Pharmacy and UAB School of Dentistry. Undergraduate students serve in supporting roles like check-in and dispensary assistants, while numerous volunteer physicians supervise the medical students.

The clinic serves many of the inner city poor and homeless by providing a source of continuous primary care and necessary prescriptions. The clinic is run out of an area church from 1-5pm on Sundays for chronic-care and Wednesday afternoons for acute-care. The clinic also provides a mental health clinic once a month on Saturdays.

Not only does the clinic provide healthcare to those who need it most, but also a diverse educational experience for students. Students become familiar with the unique health challenges of the poor and homeless through constant exposure and hands-on care. For example, while many clinicians may recommend a healthier diet to a person at-risk for diabetes, the students at the clinic realize they have to be more creative in their recommendations considering that many patients can only eat the food provided to them through shelters and assistance programs. The clinic also aims to provide patients with other available health resources.

Over the years, the clinic has served hundreds of patients in a clearly community effort of care, outreach, and education. Patients such as Abdul Ali Velji, 69, who began visiting in the clinic in 2012 lauds the clinic’s work. “It is a very good place,” he said. “You can’t imagine how it is such a big help, how cooperative and understanding they are. They are very good and treat us all like family.”

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