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Exploring Riverwest Health Needs

by Jay Kirk

Now that Riverwest has a large health clinic in the neighborhood, people here don’t have far to go to receive medical care from doctors and residents. At an April 10 meeting, Columbia St. Mary’s health care workers asked Riverwest neighbors how their work at the clinic on North and Humboldt can help fix what ails us. The meeting at COA Youth & Family Centers focused on ways to improve the health of the Riverwest community. In attendance were James Sanders, M.D., and Karen Schmidt, a social worker, both of the Columbia St. Mary’s (CSM) Health Center at Humboldt and North. Sharron Kuzmirek, Director of the COA Family Center, Clarissa Austin, COA Community Outreach Coordinator, Tom Schneider, COA Executive Director, and Mark McInerney of Community Partners were also there. Sanders introduced himself to the group and expressed his interest in meeting and getting to know his new neighbors. Sanders coordinates training for 18 residents who provide services at the CSM Health Center and wishes to find opportunities for the residents to work in the community. Sanders pointed out that residents need to learn how to work with people of all ages and circumstances, and new physicians need to work with populations beyond seeing individuals in a clinic setting. To acquire the art of medicine, residents must become skilled at developing relationships with people and communities. Some of this happens during regular work hours, when the CSM Health Center provides care to a large number of individuals, most of whom have health insurance of some kind (including Title 19). On Saturday the clinic provides free care to many others. Sanders asked those in attendance what the residents of the CSM Health Center could do to contribute to the improvement of the health of the community. Suggestions included having residents and a nutritionist scheduled to attend meetings at which they could speak on particular health topics, participate in health fairs and wellness clinics at various schools, or even make weekly visits to schools to see children referred by teachers. Schneider summarized major issues discussed: many poor children who are not receiving health care could benefit from the health programs and medicine could be projected beyond the clinic via sessions on wellness, immunizations, substance prevention, well baby care, and nutrition. McInerney of Community Partners, who spends part of his day knocking on doors asking about the neighborhood and its needs, suggested that perhaps a resident could join him during some of his conversations with neighbors. Other options include coverage by the Riverwest Currents and distribution of information via RNAmail, the Riverwest e-mail list. Sanders will coordinate planning of the residents’ schedules to allow for community program participation, and participants will continue to explore the possibilities discussed at the meeting. Riverwest Currents – Volume 2 – Issue 5 – May 2003
by Jay Kirk