September 23, 2021

Medical students ready to provide care to community at new Malta Medical Clinic

Medical student Colin Hartgerink and Joel Appel, D.O., check supplies in the Malta Dental and Medical Clinic in Detroit.

The Malta Medical Clinic student organization has joined the ever-expanding ranks of free community clinics coordinated by students at the Wayne State University School of Medicine that serve the area’s uninsured and underinsured population.

Students provide patient care every Wednesday from 1 to 3:30 p.m., with Associate Professor of Internal Medicine Joel Appel, D.O., serving as the students’ faculty advisor, and Beaumont Health Emergency Medicine physician Ed Jelonek, M.D., as the community physician.

Medical students Jessica Lee and Iyanna Peppers, with Dr. Joel Appel, volunteer at the clinic.

“The WSU medical students help provide an environment and setting of reassurance and safety to the patients. This allows all the patients to feel comfortable talking and being at our clinic and thus be honest with the clinic staff and give more accurate information,” Dr. Jelonek said, the clinic's medical director. “The WSU medical students provide a conduit for all patients’ concerns, ailments and questions so they can be heard and addressed.  In this current health care environment, with the influx of telemedicine, patients have limited access to health care providers; this in-person student to patient encounter is a ‘win- win’ for all involved.”

Located at 8642 Woodward Ave. in Detroit, the medical portion the Malta Dental and Medical Clinic became a Wayne State student-run clinic in June. Students from University of Detroit Mercy’s dental program provide dentistry care at the location.

“The Wayne State medical students bring hope and eagerness to the clinic. When they walk in it is like the sun shines on the clinic. They are so excited to see who their patients will be,” said Nancy Harmon, R.D.H., who serves as the clinic’s dental director. “I will never forget when a female patient left the exam room and said she had never had anyone listen to her like that. She felt heard. She was happy.”

The students see an average of three patients each clinic day. “The most common health concerns we see are managing patient medications for chronic illnesses: hypertension, diabetes, asthma, hyperlipidemia and autoimmune disease,” said second-year medical student Jessica Lee, who serves as a clinic coordinator. “We also see more acute health concerns such as ear infections, recent onset joint and back pain, GI disturbances, fungal infections and much more. A huge benefit of the Malta clinic is our fully stocked, on-site pharmacy to provide our patients with their medication. This bypasses many of the barriers to accessing affordable medication, including transportation and unfeasible costs.”

Second-year medical student Colin Hartgerink interviews a patient at Malta Dental and Medical Clinic.

The clinic serves all, regardless of insurance status. Other specialists assist patients in enrolling in health insurance and other social services.

“The students, through their role, have the opportunity to grow and become outstanding physicians,” Dr. Jelonek said. “Medical students have the opportunity to become comfortable and assured health care providers; they learn good bedside manner skills and the art of medicine. Talking to patients is a learned skill in which the health professional engages the patient and motivates him or her to participate in his or her health care decisions and thereby become healthier human beings. We want the medical students to treat all patients like family and put the patients at ease during the physician-patient encounter.”

They provide follow-up care if needed, but consistently see new patients and walk-ins.

“Although we don’t aim to replace our patient’s primary care providers, we can fill this gap for the patients who need it,” Lee said. “We also have a relationship with the Detroit Medical Center, so our patients can get their blood drawn for free, and the results are faxed to Malta.”

For more information, visit https://maltaclinic.org.

To learn more about the 35 in-person clinical site options for first- and second-year students, visit https://programs.med.wayne.edu/service-learning.

 

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