History of the DeSales Free Clinic
The DeSales Free Clinic was opened by the DeSales Physician Assistant Program in January 2007. Founded by then-student Brett Feldman, it is a student-run, student-funded clinic located inside the Allentown Rescue Mission in the heart of center city Allentown, Pennsylvania.
The clinic is open two evenings per week and provides completely free primary and acute care, laboratory services and medications to the men seeking shelter or enrolled in a recovery program at the Allentown Rescue Mission. Participation in the clinic is a curricular requirement for all first and second year physician assistant graduate students as an integral part of their education. Here, students learn how to effectively communicate and care for patients who have limited resources.
In addition to providing a great service to the community, the students learn to deliver culturally competent, cost-effective care while learning to use community resources to help their patients.
Services Provided at the DeSales Free Clinic
Free medical visits for both acute and chronic medical management
Free prescription and over-the-counter medications
Free laboratory testing
Access to wound care, cardiology, endocrinology and orthopedic specialists
Service Learning by the Numbers
Total number of individual visits (Jan 2007 - Nov 2016): 5,214
Total number of individual patients (Jan 2007 - Jan 2014): 1,338
Average number of patients seen per evening: 8 to 10
Number of volunteer medical providers: 31
Number of DeSales PA graduates volunteering at the clinic: 16
Students raise over $5,000 per year for the DeSales Free Clinic.
An Opportunity for Collaboration
The care received by the patients of the DeSales Free Clinic is provided directly by the DeSales Physician Assistant students. First and second year students work together as a team with the patient to gather the appropriate history and perform the physical exam.
This team setting allows first year students the opportunity to apply what is being taught in the classroom to real-world scenarios. The second year student has the opportunity to teach their peers and begin to learn the art of mentoring. Patients are discussed with preceptors or PA program faculty to develop an appropriate plan of care.
The DeSales University Nursing Program also incorporates student learning experiences at the Mission by providing screening procedures and therapeutic communication with the residents early in the morning. All patients with abnormal findings are referred to the DeSales Free Clinic on the same day, thus closing the loop of patient care referral.
This collaboration between professions has fostered a meaningful appreciation of continuity of care and has led to the treatment of multiple, previously unidentified, patients in need of care.
The Truth Home is a therapeutic residential home for survivors of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation. It provides a warm, family setting for women, consisting of 8-12 months in an intensive therapeutic environment.
The DeSales physician assistant program medical team provides free medical care to survivors in the home. Every other week a faculty member and PA student go visit and offer support. Whether discussing healthcare needs or simply building healthy relationships over breakfast, the DeSales physician assistant program is dedicated to helping these survivors.
Before volunteering, students are educated about global and local human trafficking, and hear a local survivor share her story. Students are trained in the impact, risk factors, and indicators for human trafficking, as well as in the navigation of resources for victims.
The DeSales University physician assistant medical team is proud to be part of a community that embraces the survivors within the residential home to help assist in their recovery.