State senators visit local clinic to see how U medical students help

Students simulated medical ailments to show senators the clinic’s services.

Naomi Scott

As state senators Linda Berglin, DFL-Minneapolis, and Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, toured the Phillips Neighborhood Clinic on Friday, they encountered Academic Health Center students pretending to have various medical ailments.

Students simulated everything from physical therapy requests to chronic high blood pressure to let the senators know about the services the clinic provides.

“The more people that know about us, the more people can take advantage of our services,” said Travis Olives, a second-year public health student and clinic volunteer.

The student-run clinic operates in the basement of a Presbyterian church in south Minneapolis. It offers health care every Monday evening to underinsured people in the neighborhood.

More than 100 students from the six Academic Health Center schools volunteer at the clinic, where they are supervised by doctors from the Community-University Health Care Center and the Academic Health Center.

Berglin, who represents the area served by the clinic, said she was impressed with what the students are doing there.

“I think it’s just fantastic – the fact that busy medical students would give their time to come and do this,” she said.

Berglin said it is “great” the clinic offers ongoing health care to people who would otherwise not be able to afford it.

Rosen said she was most impressed with the enthusiasm of the student volunteers.

“I was very impressed that they have the spirit – the spirit of giving,” she said.

Rosen said she hopes more people will learn about the opportunities at the clinic.

“Minnesota is known for its goodwill, and this is another area people need to know about,” she said.

Rosen also said she would hate to see a facility like the clinic stop operating because of lack of funding. Rosen heard about the clinic’s annual silent auction and said she would look into more options to help finance the clinic.

Besides the auction, which takes place in the fall, the clinic receives money from grants and donations.

As the clinic, which opened in March 2003, nears its second anniversary, it is providing more services and treating more patients.

In its first year, the clinic saw approximately four patients each Monday. Now, between nine and 12 patients are treated weekly, fourth-year medical student Michael Rhodes said. He is a member of the Medical School class that helped found the clinic.

An electrocardiogram machine, which is an instrument used in the detection and diagnosis of heart abnormalities, will be coming to the clinic soon, Rhodes said.