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OVERVIEW of SERVICES
Services Run in Conjunction with Professional Service Providers
Medical services provide basic medical care and health education to the clients, including on-site treatment, health consultations, referrals, and free influenza vaccinations during flu season. In addition, medicines and supplies are provided at the discretion of the doctor based on client needs.
The Suitcase Clinic does not stock, dispense, or prescribe narcotics or benzodiazepines. The Suitcase Clinic does not offer antihypertensive medications on an ongoing basis. The Suitcase Clinic does not stock insulin or drugs for treating epilepsy. Prescription drugs can be distributed to patients only with physician approval after a drop-in center visit or if a Suitcase Clinic physician previously authorized a medication refill. Outside prescriptions are not filled at the Suitcase Clinic unless the patient is willing to see a Suitcase Clinic physician.
OMM (Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine)
OMM is a hands-on method of treatment used to improve health and treat a wide variety of medical problems including body pain, headaches, injuries, impaired movement, the common cold and many others. A one-hour treatment session consists of a medical history, structural exam, and a hands-on treatment; it is lead by two osteopathic medical students, under the supervision of a doctor of osteopathic medicine.
Chiropractic is a type of comprehensive and alternative medicine that helps treat and relieve mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system. It involves manipulation of the spine, other joints, and soft tissues in the body, with focus on adjustments made to body to restore nerve function. Chiropractic services are good for realigning the back, joint and back pain, as well as a range of different issues such as acid reflux, thyroid issues, fatigue, constipation, and more.
Acupuncture centers on the concept of Qi, or energy. The flow of Qi in the body is regulated through acupuncture in order to balance the body. Acupuncture is commonly known to increase circulation, decrease inflammation, and augment the immune and nervous systems. It is good in helping to relieve many different ailments such as headaches, body aches, muscle-related injuries, toothaches, arthritic pains, post-surgery pain, bowel and digestive issues, respiratory problems, smoking cessation, and much more.
During the school year, every week, Optometry students come in to conduct vision screenings. After completing the screening the students write referrals for the clients to Minor Hall where they will have a full eye exam and receive a prescription. Clients then return to clinic the following week with their prescription to receive a referral to Sears in Oakland where they will receive free glasses. These appointments are available Wednesday and Thursday of the current week, and Tuesday the following week. Usually the General Clinic only has eight appointment slots every week, and Women’s Clinic and Youth Clinic each get two appointments.
Clients who have Medi-Cal or Medicare can call Minor Hall directly at (510) 642-2020 and set up an appointment. Clients who do not have a share of cost Medi-Cal plan, the eye exam will be free. For clients who have a share of cost plan and have yet to reach their monthly deductible, there will be a cost incurred for the eye exam. For clients with Medicare (and no Medi-Cal), there is a co-pay charge for the eye exam.
For clients with a valid, unexpired prescription, they can get a referral to Sears Optical in Oakland to receive a free pair of glasses. In order to receive a referral, a client must present a valid and up-to-date prescription. If a client does not have one, but has the ability to obtain one, he or she should return to clinic with the prescription for a referral to Sears in Oakland. It is required that clients show their valid prescription to Sears Optical. Clients pick out a pair of frames (from a select group) at their scheduled appointment, and they make an appointment to pick up their finished glasses at another time. Sears Optical CANNOT take frames the client has and put new lenses in there–that is actually more expensive for them. They have to receive glasses with the frames Sears Optical offers to them. Clients can receive glasses from this program once a year–if they receive glasses from this program and lose them in the same year, they must wait until next year.
Touro Pharmacy Students (as well as a licensed Pharmacist) provide blood pressure readings, blood glucose tests, and drug optimization counseling (they can talk to clients about what works best them if they are on multiple prescription drugs). They can also answer any questions in regards to medications clients have, or just general health questions. The Touro Pharmacy station also has a limited amount of over-the-counter medication available for clients, but clients will have to present a need for the medication (by talking to the pharmacists about symptoms they are having). Some over-the counter medication they have includes: hydrocortisone, antibiotic ointment, allergy products (benadryl and claritin), bisacodyl (laxative), lomotil (anti-diarrheal), antifungal cream, lice treatment (limited quantity), antacids, Band-Aids, chapstick, and select cough/cold products.
Services Run by Undergraduates
Continuity of Care Advocacy
The Continuity of Care Advocacy (CoCA) division of the Suitcase Clinic was established in January of 2001 in response to frustrations voiced by students, service providers and clients surrounding the lack of continuity in health care for the uninsured, along with the numerous barriers that people without health insurance face when seeking medical services. During the 2001-2002 year, CoCAs established a relationship with LifeLong Medical Care, a local community health center, in order to improve the care of Suitcase Clinic clients who cannot be fully treated due to the inherent medical limitations of the Suitcase Clinic.
The CoCA’s job is to address clients’ needs that can not be met on-site at clinic by referring them to outside services and resources. CoCAs commonly refer clients to services such as free or low-cost medical, dental, legal, and optometry services. Also, CoCAs help clients locate places where they can get free meals, showers, laundry, immunizations, and other services that they cannot receive at clinic.
C.A.R.E. (Client Advocates for Resources and Employment) (Housing/Employment/Resume Help)
Every week the C.A.R.E. Coordinators receive clients with a wide variety of housing and employment related issues. They work on the case at hand through an informal interview process, determining the client’s needs and history. They then provide referrals to other agencies, assistance with housing searches (through Eden I + R list and Craigslist), job searches (through a variety of online sources), career counseling, employment seeking advice (resume building, interview coaching, and cover letter writing), Section 8 assistance, public benefit information, and step-by-step action plans. Some clients come repeatedly to work on issues though the majority seek assistance sporadically.
Health Education manages donations to the clinic and the distribution of hygiene supplies and clothing to clients. Items we distribute weekly include: condoms, band-aids, toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, flossers, soap, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, cotton swabs, razors, safety pins, tampons/pads, combs/brushes, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, thread and needle, and multivitamins.
Health education materials are available at the table including smoking-cessation information, safe-sex pamphlets, free meal distribution locations in Alameda County charts, depression information, etc.
Foot Care has volunteer students providing gentle podiatric care, and handing out nail clippers, lotion, anti-fungal spray, and foot powder to our clients, who often walk for hours and have limited access to showers. Footwashing is a service that is offered at clinic every week and occurs on a first-come first-serve basis. A hot water bath with soap is prepared for each client.
The haircutting service has student volunteers providing haircuts and beard trimmings for clients who often do not have access to a set of clippers or scissors. Haircutting is a service that we offer at General Clinic every week and occurs on a first-come first-serve basis. The Haircutting Coordinators normally perform the haircuts but if they are not available, other volunteers substitute for them. However, clients may cut their own hair or shave their own beards if desired.
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In a time when society often fixates on the immediate and acute concerns of individuals, there is a need to address the long term problem of mental well-being of homeless/low-income clients. Unfortunately, medicine today has adapted to this fast paced world by providing fast treatments which fail to target the roots of problems. Individuals are labeled as “broken,” and examined just as one would examine a broken household appliance. Many medical treatments neglect the benefits of investigating the patient’s mental state, which is just as valuable as addressing physical ailments.
To address the targeted homeless and low-income population’s need for mental health services, we should first define what “mental health” is exactly. We define it as “a state of well-being whereby individuals recognize their abilities, are able to cope with normal stresses of life, work productively and fruitfully, and make a contribution to their community.” To empower individuals and improve their well-being, self expression can be a very effective tool. Expression ranges from art and poetry to dance and meditation; it is an outlet for creativity which empowers individuals by acknowledging that everyone is an asset and can contribute through these media. It equalizes the parties involved, reciprocates great ideas, and encourages individuals to feel a positive sense of self.
Within the greater society, individuals in homeless and low-income populations are ignored and ostracized by society; their expression is one of the last rights that they can call their own. Encouraging homeless individuals to express their feelings can help them forget about their challenging situations and enable them to vent their frustrations towards society.
Through the collaboration of students from various disciplines and backgrounds, the Wellness Division strives to provide opportunities to deliver holistic care that empowers and educates clients rather than just mitigating their symptoms.
The Youth Clinic typically serves dinner every week during clinic. Meals are prepared on-site by volunteers, and clients and can enjoy a relaxing meal on Monday nights. On occasion, the General Clinic serves a dinner in the gym during the night. Meals are typically prepared by the Dinners small group from the HMS 98/198 class.
As serving food for many people can be expensive and cumbersome, food donations are appreciated. If you are interested in donating food, please contact either the General Clinic Coordinators or the Youth Clinic Coordinators.