Health care is a fundamental human right, and yet millions of Americans remain uninsured or underinsured. In response to this crisis, many communities have come together to establish free or low-cost health clinics. But what if there was a student-run health clinic on your college campus? One such clinic was started by a group of Texas A&M University medical students who saw a need in their community and took action. Through their hard work and dedication, they are making a difference in their community.
Maroon Health clinic was started in 2019 with a vision to strategically provide members of the community with medical services and education while bringing medical students into an environment outside the regular hospital setting. To make this initiative successful, the Maroon Health team was faced with the challenge to identify what members of the community required from them. They partnered with Open Gate Homeless Ministries, a well-established organization in Houston already trusted by many.
With mission-driven hearts and determination to move forward during incredibly uncertain times such as the pandemic, Maroon Health seeks to execute their goals and bring health care that goes beyond your average hospital setting today.
Maroon Health is made up of a dedicated team of medical students and staff who hold free clinics every other Sunday in an area that otherwise offers limited or no access to health care. The initiative was born out of the belief that people who suffer from gunshot wounds or other basic injuries should not have to feel hopeless in finding medical assistance.
To make this mission a reality, Maroon Health secures funding through grants. This effort is funded by the Texas Medical Association’s grant program, which provides aid to medical students. Maroon Health offers necessary tools for education and better management of health beyond what current free clinics can provide.
“Our wound care workshop was born from our clinic’s experience with people coming in with ulcerations, sores, and other wounds arising from limited resources,” Cailin O’Connell, ENMED student said. “Many unhoused people wear the same pair of socks day after day or shoes that don’t fit them properly, leading to issues. We provide first aid kits and education to empower our patients to take charge of their own care. The cost of bandages and first-aid kits can be a financial burden for those unable to house themselves. We hope this workshop provides the resources and knowledge these individuals may need so they can take care of themselves without breaking the bank. We are looking forward to hearing constructive feedback as we strive to do our best job educating them on their wound care needs.”
Every other Sunday, Maroon Health sets up a booth to pass out wound care kits at Open Gate. At the booth, volunteers are available to answer questions and provide guidance on proper use and how best to apply the kits. The kits are a desirable option for those in need of wound care since they save time, money and maintain privacy all while providing an effective solution.
“Developing skills in a low resource setting is an essential part of the medical school curriculum and serves as an invaluable opportunity for students to refine their skills,” Dixita Viswanath, MS4, MD/PhD, said. “Additionally, this setting provides students with a unique understanding of the medical experiences of those in the transgender population, providing awareness about the potential health disparities these individuals face and how to effectively address them. Ultimately, these clinicals not only reinforce students’ already-learned curricular knowledge, but also introduce them to important topics and skills which may not be covered in pre-clerkship classes.”
Maroon Health always welcomes eager volunteers. Monthly orientations are available prior to the start of the clinic. At any time, students can sign up to be officers and be a part of something special that lets them interact with the community in a meaningful way.