UT Health Science Center opens student-run free clinic at Alpha Home

Richard P. Usatine, M.D., professor of family and community medicine and faculty adviser to the Student-Run Free Clinic, attends the ribbon cuttting ceremony at Alpha Home.

Millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans find their care in hospital emergency rooms, long after the time when preventive steps might have been taken to better their health. That’s why a new free clinic offered Saturdays by The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and Alpha Home is a welcome boost for indigent women at Alpha Home who have pressing – but unmet – health care needs.

The Health Science Center’s family and community medicine department, in partnership with Alpha Home, held a ribbon cutting to celebrate the new Student-Run Free Clinic on1 p.m. Saturday. Alpha Home is a non-profit United Way agency and ministry of Trinity Baptist Church and has provided substance abuse treatment to indigent women for four decades.

“Fittingly, the ribbon cut was pink,” said Julie Wisdom-Wild, CEO of Alpha Home. “We welcomed back Alpha Home program alumnae who helped us officially open this partnership clinic, which has been more than a year in the making.”

Richard P. Usatine, M.D., professor of family and community medicine at the Health Science Center and faculty adviser to the Student-Run Free Clinic, sees the clinic filling a gap in the health care safety net of poverty-stricken women at Alpha Home while providing medical students a great opportunity to learn how to address the medical needs of these women.

“At Alpha Home, these future physicians can expect to see substance abuse, depression, anxiety, urinary tract infections, asthma, diabetes, breast problems and hepatitis C,” Dr. Usatine said. “Many Alpha Home clients have not interacted with any health facility in years. Alpha Home is the only women-specific program in this region, and the referral rates support its reputation in saving lives and changing lives, which not only helps clients but also gives their children chances for new lives. The nearly 400 women who received treatment at Alpha Home last year had a combined total of 795 children.”

In addition to faculty and students from the Health Science Center’s family and community medicine department and members of the Alpha Home board of directors, others who attended were Fernando Guerra, M.D., M.P.H., director of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District; Civil District Court Judges Barbara Nellermoe and John Specia; Children’s Court Associate Judge Peter Sakai; and Joe Vesowate, assistant commissioner for mental health and substance abuse services with the Texas Department of State Health Services.

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