With more than 28,000 uninsured people living in Alachua County, the medical students and doctors who volunteer at the UF Equal Access Clinic can’t always see every patient who lines up at the door during the few hours the clinic is open each week.
But the students who run the clinic are making changes to try to boost the number of patients they can treat and improve the care offered at the free clinic.
UF medical students have launched a second free clinic in Gainesville under the umbrella of the Equal Access Clinic, have tweaked the clinic’s organizational structure to improve its year-to-year operation and are working on making the clinics more multidisciplinary, says Adam Mecca, a student in the College of Medicine’s M.D./Ph.D. program and a co-director of the clinic. They’ve received two grants this year to help their cause, too—a $2,000 grant from the American Medical Association and a four-year, $20,000 grant from the Association of American Medical Colleges.
“There are a lot of people out there who don’t have insurance,” Mecca said. “We think (these changes) will help us see a lot more patients.”
But in order to keep forward momentum, the medical students need help from College of Medicine faculty. The students need doctors to volunteer at the primary clinic as attending physicians. While the Equal Access Clinic has never had a problem securing volunteers, keeping two clinics staffed is more of a challenge, Mecca says. Without an attending physician, the clinics can’t open.
“We have never missed a clinic, but sometimes we have to scramble to find someone,” Mecca says.
The students are looking for doctors who are comfortable doing primary care and who, ideally, understand the needs of the uninsured and underinsured.
The Equal Access Clinic is held from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Thursdays at the Family Practice Medical Group, 625 S.W. Fourth Ave. A new by-appointment clinic is being held Tuesday evenings at the Gainesville Community Ministry building, 238 S.W. Fourth Ave. For more information, call 352-273-8614 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.