New free clinic started by OUWB student organization serves Hispanic community
An image of students, doctors, and staff at the LMSA Clinic
The doctors, staff, and OUWB students who participated in the third clinic held by LMSA in March, 2024.

A new clinic that aims to fill a critical health care need within the local Hispanic community recently was launched by an OUWB student organization.

Amigos Medicos Oakland-Macomb was started by the OUWB Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA). Held once a month, the clinic provides free health care to members of the Hispanic community whose primary language is Spanish. Most don’t have insurance, either.

Since January, LMSA has hosted the clinic three times at Trinity Community Care (TCC) in Shelby Township. The clinics have helped a total of more than 30 patients.

Organizers hope to emulate the success of other similar community-based services led by OUWB students — Street Medicine Oakland and the Student-Run Free Clinics at Gary Burnstein Community Clinic, for example.

“Even if we helped just one patient it’s a success,” said Kaitlyn Paez, M2, president, LMSA. “And we’ve already had one patient who had bloodwork done and realized the person had a lot going on. We’re now able to start getting some of the issues under control.”

‘A great collaboration’

The origins of the clinic are found in a similar version started by LMSA’s counterparts at Wayne State University School of Medicine, according to Christian Santiago, M2, vice president, LMSA.

There, students worked with Rudy Gomez, M.D., a physician from Henry Ford Health, to establish an option for patients in Detroit.

Santiago said he wanted to do something similar in the Oakland-Macomb area and started working towards doing so last summer with Gomez. Paez and Kyara Sosa, M2, quickly became involved.

All were happy to work on making the clinic a reality.

“One of the reasons I went into medicine was because I am bilingual and I want to give back to that community, but there’s not always the necessary resources to be able to do that,” said Paez.

“Creating a clinic that’s specifically targeted toward the Hispanic population and staffed with people who are able to make them feel welcome and comfortable is really important.”

Sosa said she had similar reasons for wanting to get involved. She is a first-generation college student whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba.

“It’s really nice when patients come into the clinic and they feel comfortable because they are with people who look and sound like them and understand where they’re coming from,” said Sosa.

Paez said the students and Gomez worked with representatives from various churches and other organizations while trying to find a home for a free clinic.

Ultimately, the students were connected with Kimberly Getziner, M.D., assistant professor, and emergency medicine physician, Corewell Health Beaumont Troy Hospital. Getzinger also serves as medical director, TCC.

TCC, which has partnered with OUWB on other projects, had the space and time that allowed for the free clinic to be established.

From there, the team worked on the final logistics, such as how to handle lab work and what days and times would be best.

The first clinic was in January.

“This has been a great collaboration for us and a vital service for the Hispanic and Latino community,” said Amber Scarletta, executive director, TCC.

“It has also been a way for us to extend our outreach, providing free medical services to the uninsured and under-insured, when we may not have been able to otherwise, due to the language barrier,” she added.

An image of OUWB students and Dr. Rivera

Students discuss a complete patient case with Rivera, including a treatment plan and labs that should be ordered. The students are Diana Castillo, M1, Joseph Lanese, M1, Kyara Sosa, M2, Kaitlyn Paez, M2.

‘So grateful’

Services provided at Amigos Medicos Oakland-Macomb are similar to what patients might receive at a traditional primary care facility.

The two on-site doctors are Gomez and Aleida Rivera, M.D., assistant professor, and family medicine physician, Corewell Health Family Medicine – Parkside in Oxford.

Santiago said people who are using the clinic are “mostly new patients who haven’t seen doctors in a lot of years.” They’re getting general checkups, physical exams, having lab work done, or “have medical issues that haven’t been addressed in a while or at all.”

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“If there is something that the physicians feel needs a specialist, we have the means to refer them to a specialist, free of cost through the clinic,” said Santiago.

Most patients don’t have insurance and speak little to no English.

“It’s nice to be able to communicate my passion for medicine in Spanish,” said Sosa.

Paez said that the hope is that the clinic becomes sustainable and continues for years, like Street Medicine Oakland.

It seems as if the clinic is well on its way to doing just that.

“The OUWB students have been such a joy to work with,” said Scarletta. “From the very first meeting we had with the team, we could see their eagerness, excitement, and motivation. They could not wait to get started.”

Now that it’s happening, the clinics have been “very busy” and “received well,” she said.

“The students are incredibly intelligent and gifted,” added Scarletta. “It’s so inspiring to watch them work and there is no doubt they will do great things. We are so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of their journey.”

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

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

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