This was a good week!
My brother and I attended the grand opening of the Dayton Street Opportunity Center in Aurora, Colorado last Sunday. They had expected a good turnout, but by the end there was barely room to stand. Close to 150 people from all over the community had turned up, including community members, church groups, politicians, police officers, youth groups, and Anschutz Medical Campus faculty and students. The packed building was an obvious sign both of how much work and effort had gone into creating it, and how excited the community was to have it open.
The Opportunity Center represents a huge win for the community. It is a space designed to provide options and resources to the adults and kids who might otherwise have made choices they’d regret. It will offer counseling, healthcare, job training, youth mentorship, and more. The center has space for a church or community meetings, classrooms and a kitchen that can all be used by non-profits or other groups that need a space.
On Tuesday evening (10 March 2015) we took over the new Opportunity Center and opened up the Dedicated to Aurora’s Wellness and Needs (DAWN) Clinic. The DAWN Clinic is a student-run health clinic that will provide free care to adults without insurance every Tuesday night. DAWN will also offer physical therapy and mental health assistance on Wednesday nights, with the hope of expanding soon to cover specialty needs, and provide complementary and alternative care . We are a team of medical, nursing, dental, pharmacy, physical therapy, psychology, public health, pre-med, nutrition and administration students (apologies to the schools I missed) that are all volunteering to create a unique interdisciplinary experience centered on the patient’s needs. It is an awesome idea and something that I am proud to be a very small part of.
The clinic has been an amazing project to work on. Students have been advocating and working to get it established for nearly two years. We’ve been able to apply the medical knowledge from lectures while designing clinical experiences for patients. I’ve used my research on care coordination to help craft and co-lead the Care Coordination Workgroup. Helping to establish the risk management for a free clinic has been an amazing way to exercise my finance degree. There are over 150 students actively involved, each with their own set of skills and background that they bring to the table. Each of these students has had similar opportunities to learn and explore areas that interest them.
There are a lot of smart and passionate nerds making this happen. We have our Long-Term Research Outcomes and Care Coordination teams building a database to help manage chronically ill patients. Another team has created a plan for how students can see and treat the patient, under the supervision of a doctor or other certified professional. Don’t worry; we have adult supervision that is also volunteering their time to help, to teach and to mentor! Other students have recruited interpreters and offered medical interpreting training. Our Health Education workgroup has gathered resources and materials on every topic you can imagine, while our HIT team has ensured that we have an electronic medical records system that is both functional and useful. We have 23 workgroups, each with different tasks and challenges, that they attack with fresh eyes and innovative solutions. We research best practices throughout the country and then try to adapt them to our community needs and the Opportunity Center space.
It was very cool (and a bit of a relief) to see our first patients walk in the doors! We have spent the last months meeting, researching, planning, networking, training and creating a culture in preparation for last Tuesday, our first clinic night. The team has gained experience that we would never have picked up in the classrooms. The patients we met could not receive care elsewhere. Instead, they would have missed more work and struggled to also care for their families. Our teams added value as soon as the clinic opened and that was a mighty satisfying feeling!
There is much to be done in the next weeks. It is time to apply all of the plans and procedures we’ve practiced. And time to identify and throw out the processes that don’t work so we can create new ones. I can’t wait to see what we learn as we put plans D, E and F into action.
It was a good week!