Medical Students Help with Domestic Disaster
On March 13, more than 100 Temple University medical students took a break from the daily grind of studying and exams to give back to their local community.
The students worked on several beautification projects at Kailo Haven, a men’s shelter, as members of the Temple Emergency Action Corps (TEAC).
Kailo Haven, located in Philadelphia, is one of the homeless shelters that receives aid from students as part of the TEAC program. Members of the group work there to help improve the residents’ health and access to care.
Medical students Alison Marshall, Golnar Lashgari and Jennie Johnson organized the project.
“The homeless situation in Philadelphia is a disaster, because many have very little access to health care and preventive treatments,” said Marshall. “They wait until they need acute care and have to go to the emergency room.”
Working with homeless shelters are not TEAC’s usual specialty, however. Initiated as a response to Hurricane Katrina, TEAC normally focuses on domestic and international disasters. Currently, the international arm of the group is planning a trip to Haiti.
But since there has not been a major domestic disaster on the same scale as the 2005 hurricane in recent years, the group has been able to look into more community issues, Marshall said.
The effort to focus on more locally based domestic disasters has led to a three part plan for more student-led assistance in the local homeless community.
Students run health and wellness workshops Tuesdays and Wednesdays at Kailo Haven and also at a nearby women’s shelter. Working with Project HOME and Resources for Human Development (RHD), participants can learn things ranging from sexual health to managing in the cold.
Because there has been so much student support and interest, the workshops are soon to be expanded to include podiatry and dental students.
“The information that we’re gathering from these sessions really helps us determine what the most prevalent health issues in these communities are. It gives us a better sense of what the community needs, and will help us meet those needs more effectively,” Marshall said.
TEAC is also talking to its partners about ways to incorporate more medical students into the two shelters’ clinical care operations. According to Marshall, students might start assisting in RHD’s mobile clinic or the Temple Hospital sometime during the spring.
They also hope to eventually build a treatment facility in North Philadelphia where students can work alongside medical professionals to offer complete service to the underserved population, including help with health care, legal services and social services.
Any student interested in serving the homeless population can get involved in TEAC’s work with shelters. TEAC also offers a credit-bearing course for students to become first responders to natural disasters.
“Temple University is well situated to provide services to the surrounding community through its professional schools, while also giving students the opportunity to learn from people in the community who need their help and care,” said Marshall.
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