“Those that don’t got it, can’t show it. Those that got it, can’t hide it.” Zora Neale Hurston
College of Medicine faculty and students showed their passion for health and community service January 31 as they provided health screenings to about 100 people at the annual Zora Neale Hurston festival.
The event honors Hurston, an author, anthropologist and activist and her hometown of Eatonville FL, the oldest incorporated African-American municipality in the United States.
The medical school’s Council for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) helps sponsor Zora, and organizes health care screenings at the medically underserved community. This year’s screenings included vision, blood sugar, blood pressure, height, weight and BMI. Medical students, under the supervision of core, volunteer and affiliated faculty, did the screenings. Students from Jones High School’s medical magnet program, who are part of the medical school’s Health Leaders pipeline program, escorted patients through the screenings and kept track of their results.
Angel Ortiz is one of those Health Leaders. A 10th grader at Jones, her dream is to become an emergency surgeon. The pipeline program helps Angel and other students from medically underserved communities with mentoring, skills development, research opportunities and interaction with health professionals to make the youngsters qualified for future health careers.
Angel worked with the faculty and medical students to record screening results and keep patients moving through the “one-stop clinic.” She said some of her “patients” were worried about their health; some had family histories of ailments like high blood pressure and diabetes. She said she hoped the screenings provided comfort or at least information that patients could act upon with their own physicians or with clinics that provide care to the un- and underinsured.
She said her dream of being a doctor is spurred by her love of science – “I love learning about the parts of the body and how they function” and her compassion – “I love helping people.”
Helping people was the theme of the Zora volunteering. Anita Patel is a UCF medical student in the class of 2016. She was checking blood glucose levels. Some patients were under treatment for diabetes but didn’t have their own blood glucose meters to check their levels. Others wanted to be sure that the day’s activities – including walking and food stations – hadn’t impacted their health. Still others had diabetes in the family. Several said they knew they were diabetic but had not been able to see a doctor for care.
One woman approached, concerned about what the blood glucose meter would show and noted fearfully that Type 2 diabetes is common in her family. Patel checked the woman’s blood glucose, broke into a broad smile and high-fived her patient. “Ninety-one,” she exclaimed. “That’s the best blood sugar I’ve had all day.”
“It’s nice to be able to alleviate some concerns,” Patel said later. “I love being a resource for the community. I like talking to patients, making them aware and helping them to be empowered in their health.”
Providing health services was a partnership event. Physicians from the Central Florida Medical Society, the local chapter of the National Medical Association, volunteer along with UCF core, volunteer and affiliated faculty members. For the second year in a row, the eye exams were supervised by volunteer faculty member Dr. Deepak Raja, who serves as advisor to the medical school’s Ophthalmology Interest Group.
“Working together we were able to serve a community in need,” said Dr. Lisa Barkley, assistant dean for diversity and inclusion who leads the medical school’s CDI. “We were able to help real people facing real healthcare challenges.”
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