OUWB students and officials recently stepped up in a big way at a community event designed to deliver important health care-related screenings and education to residents of Oakland County.

‘A wonderful thing:’ OUWB students deliver screening, education to the community
An image of a student taking blood pressure.
Adel Andemeskel, M2, (left) volunteered at the Healthy Affair and worked at a blood pressure screening station.

OUWB students and officials recently stepped up in a big way at a community event designed to deliver important health care-related screenings and education to residents of Oakland County.

The Links to Wellness Healthy Affair was held Feb. 26 at Welcome Missionary Baptist Church in Pontiac.

The event was the result of a partnership between the Oakland County Chapter of The Links Inc. — a professional woman’s group primarily focused on health and wellness for Pontiac residents — and OU-Pontiac Initiative, a collaboration between Oakland University and the city of Pontiac that aims to advance the city’s vitality while providing OU students with experiential learning opportunities.

Available services included blood pressure and diabetes checks, vision exams, COVID-19 vaccines, and more. The health fair also included many educational components on topics such as first-aid, CPR, kidney disease, nutrition, and mental health.

Of 25 stations, 10 were staffed by a total of more than 30 OUWB students.

“This is giving OUWB medical students a service-learning opportunity so they can really take care of residents in the city of Pontiac,” said Teresa Rodges, senior director, Community Service and Pre-College Programs, Student Affairs & Diversity, Oakland University.

Rodges, also a member of Links, added that the OUWB students “get great hands-on care, and also work with middle and high school students who get a taste for what it’s all about to be in health care.”

Pastor Douglas P. Jones, of Welcome Missionary Baptist Church, called the event “very important” for the community.

“Especially as we are, I hope, coming out of COVID,” he said.

“Just to be able to have people come in and know that this service is available…it’s great.”

‘An opportunity to be creative’

In addition to Links, OU, and OUWB, other participating organizations were McLaren Oakland Hospital, St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, Oakland County Health Department, Gary Burnstein Community Health Clinic, Honor Community Health, and more.

Along with OUWB students, several school officials were at the event, including Duane Mezwa, M.D., Stephan Sharf Dean, and Robert Noiva, Ph.D., associate dean of Graduate Studies and Community Integration.

Noiva said the diverse number of services provided by OUWB students was particularly impressive.

An image of OUWB students interacting with a child.
Students engaged with children at the event while parents, grandparents, and guardians took advantage of available services.

“Students are interested in helping address many of the health needs in the community,” he said. “This is an opportunity to be creative about what can be offered in an informal setting where members of the community don’t have to go to a clinic or hospital.”

Emily Babcock, M1, said connecting with the community in an informal setting was one of her primary motivations to volunteer.

“These are the people that I hope to be involved with as a physician,” she said. “Understanding where they're coming from at this level is really valuable for future training.”

Emily Nolton, M1, echoed similar sentiments.

“It's a big part of our learning,” she said. “The classroom learning is one part of it, but to be able to connect with the community and connect what you're doing in the classroom to real life is important."

Adel Andemeskel, M2, also said she wanted to connect with the community in that way. She helped with blood pressure screening.

"I'm learning how I can contribute to my community around me as a health care professional,” she said. “This is a great way to get started with that and it's also a way to build trust within the community."

Lawanda Jackson, senior specialist in Community Engagement for Molina Healthcare, said when students like Babcock, Nolton, and Andemeskel deliver such services in places like Welcome Baptist Church, it can make a huge difference in the health of a community.

“When people have access to these types of services with people they know, or are familiar with, and trust…they’re more apt to participate,” said Jackson, who attended the event on behalf of Molina and to educate attendees about Medicaid choices.

‘Very open and friendly’

A big focus of the day was on kidney disease awareness and prevention.

Crystal Gardner-Martin, M.D., a nephrologist with Hypertension Nephrology Associates, P.C., presented several educational sessions. She focused on helping people understand that the two most common causes of kidney disease — hypertension and diabetes — are also the most preventable.

More from OUWB

Student-led campaigns at OUWB aim to help Haiti, Pakistan

‘Anything is possible:’ 10th annual health fair hosted by OUWB for Chandler Park

Harvest of help: OUWB volunteers throughout the community during busy autumn season

“We have to get people to understand that these diseases go hand-in-hand,” she said. “When kidney disease is found early, we can initiate medications that will help decrease the risk of progressing on to chronic kidney disease or dialysis.”

Martin said delivering such information in person is the most effective way to connect with them.

“You can see what people are questioning, the expressions on their faces, and that tells what you might need to explain in more detail…it just seems more real when you’re talking about it in person,” she said.

Community members who attended the health fair were appreciative.

Earline Dowell, a Pontiac resident, said she attended to learn more about kidney disease and participate in some of the blood tests.

She praised OUWB students.

“They’re very open and friendly and very receptive to working with the community,” she said.

Ruth Ramsey attended and took advantage of several of the available services, including the blood screening.

“It’s a wonderful thing,” she said of the fair. “Everyone made me feel calm and relaxed…it’s something that everyone should be aware of and take advantage of.”

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at [email protected]

To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications & Marketing webpage.

NOTICE: Except where otherwise noted, all articles are published under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. You are free to copy, distribute, adapt, transmit, or make commercial use of this work as long as you attribute Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine as the original creator and include a link to this article.

Follow OUWB on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.