LCHM Summer 2018 - 23

L C M E D S O C .O R G

In no setting is it more apparent that acquiring This is what makes HEARTS so special-by
medical care and being healthy is extremely giving patients tools and resources patients can
difficult than in a resource-limited population readily afford and access, we empower them in
riddled with high rates of chronic disease. their own health journey.
Transportation, time, cost, and distrust of the
medical system are some of the main barriers
HEARTS has not only proven beneficial to
that prevent patients from receiving medical patients, but also to the students across multiple
care. HEARTS Clinic attempts to address disciplines at various stages of their education
some of these issues by making all medical who volunteer their time to sustain the clinic.
services provided at the clinic free and tapping For the medical students, all of whom attend
into a wide network of ancillary services for the St. Luke's regional campus of the Lewis
additional support. Depending on a patient's Katz School of Medicine at Temple University,
specific needs, referrals are made to programs interacting with patients at the clinic allows them
specifically designed for low-income individuals, to practice building rapport with patients, flex
from Pennsylvania's statewide Healthy Woman their clinical reasoning skills, and even develop
Program, which provides free pap smears, mam- continuity of care with their own patients
mograms, and any necessary follow-up exams, from month to month at the clinic. Many
to Community Voices Clinic, a free, culturally of the students who volunteer are first and
sensitive mental health and counseling service second years, whose curriculum is primarily
staffed by graduate students in Counseling composed of traditional classroom didactics
Psychology at Lehigh University. Some of and limited in clinical exposure, so the clinic
these partnerships even allow for services to be truly serves as a unique learning environment.
accessed right at the clinic. For example, a nurse For third and fourth years, mentoring junior
from the Bethlehem Health Bureau is available colleagues is as much of a skill to be honed as
to administer any necessary vaccinations for developing clinical knowledge and assuming
free right at the clinic. Donations to St. Luke's responsibility for patient care. All students
Community Health and Preventive Medicine benefit from learning directly from the guidance
help subsidize the cost of some medications, of residents and faculty of St. Luke's Family
such as those for hypertension or reducing the Medicine, who oversee all clinical encounters
risk of cardiovascular disease. And on clinic and teach students about clinical management.
days, a free diabetes prevention and education In addition to gaining medical knowledge about
class, led by students and staff of St. Luke's diagnosing and treating disease, students become
Community Health and Preventive Medicine, equipped with supportive adjuncts in patient
occurs in an adjacent classroom outfitted as a care-what programs promote and support
kitchen. Participants learn about the health lifestyle modification in the area, where to go
impact of making certain food choices from to find the most affordable medications, and
a licensed nutritionist and are also treated to how to use screening and disease prevention to
a healthy recipe prepared by a local chef. At keep people from getting sick. These tools are
the end of the session, they take home a bag just as important in providing comprehensive,
of ingredients so they can replicate the dish at patient-centered care as are clinical knowledge
home. Thus, the goal of HEARTS is to not and judgment.
only provide medical care for patients, but to
also support patients in managing their chronic
Beyond the physician-patient interaction,
disease, advance their knowledge about health medical students benefit from the interpermaintenance, and address the barriers that may sonal interactions fostered at HEARTS Clinic.
keep them from accessing regular medical care. Medical students work closely with the Lehigh

University undergraduate students of HEARTS
Link and graduate students of Community
Voices, listening to their colleagues' opinions
about different aspects of patients' lives, such
as whether they can afford the prescribed
medication, or screen positive for depression
and require further work-up. These types of
interactions are invaluable for students, who
will rely on good communication skills to work
in multidisciplinary care teams throughout the
rest of their careers. Encouraged by accreditation
standards outlined by the Liaison Committee
on Medical Education, medical schools aim
to provide these kinds of experiences through
formal sessions bringing together students from
various health professions, but volunteering at
HEARTS Clinic allows students to accomplish
this goal organically.
At the end of the day, HEARTS Clinic aims
to mutually benefit patients and volunteers.
Patients can expect for their medical concerns
to be addressed, to be treated with dignity and
patience, and to be given resources that will
help them achieve their health goals. Medical
students walk away more knowledgeable about
the lives, struggles, and experiences of people in
our community, which allows us to be better
advocates for our patients. Interprofessional
interactions give us the opportunity to work
within a healthcare team and gain respect for
the contributions of our colleagues to varying
aspects of comprehensive, patient-centered care.
This tangible, experiential, culturally sensitive
service-learning opportunity in medicine
is invaluable-no textbook or lecture will
impart the lessons of providing medical care
and practicing preventive medicine in the way
that interacting with the patients from our own
community and coming up with solutions for
their barriers to care will. HEARTS Clinic truly
is an opportunity to give back to our community
while simultaneously learning from it.

For inquiries about HEARTS and how to support the clinic, please reach out to
SUMMER 2018 | Lehigh County Health & Medicine 23


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of LCHM Summer 2018

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