LUCOM works with South Virginia health center to provide access to health care

Christopher Breedlove, Director of Marketing, PR and Web | May 10, 2016

Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine (LUCOM) returned to Southern Virginia to continue the college’s mission and vision to partner with local health care organizations and provide care to underserved and underrepresented patients across the state. LUCOM student-doctors once again teamed up with Piedmont Access to Health Services (PATHS) in Danville, Va., on Saturday, May 7, to provide access to patients that were having difficulty obtaining services from the health care system.

LUCOM student-doctor checks vitals of Danville outreach patient.“We could not have asked for a better partner. The setup at PATHS was perfect. We had real exam rooms and a place to be able to allow the patients to go for follow-up. Working again with PATHS was a great experience for our student-doctors; everyone worked hard and the patients truly benefited from the partnership,” said Carl Hoegerl, D.O., LUCOM professor of neurology.

Student-Doctor Karissa Merritt, LUCOM class of 2018, assisted with the organization of the event. “The Danville outreach was successful and seeing it come to fruition was so also incredible. It is humbling to go out and serve people of all ages in varying states of health; but it's equally humbling to see my peer’s passion for medicine, and service,” she said.

LUCOM student-doctor gives OMM treatment to patient with TBJ.Within the PATHS facility, student-doctors established an intake area admitting 135 patients and throughout the day patients were given general health screenings and assessments for chronic disease. In cooperation with the pharmacy services at PATHS, treated patients were able to become established within the health care system and when directed by LUCOM faculty physicians receive prescription therapy for their conditions. Student-doctors also offered the application of Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM) while focusing on conditions including musculoskeletal dysfunction, hypertension and heart disease.

“What I enjoyed most was witnessing how happy the patients seemed to be that they were finally able to obtain services at a health clinic. The events of the day were a nice reminder of why we study so much and how worth it, it is,” said Cody Grace, student-doctor, class of 2019. “They [the patients] were very nice and seemed grateful that we were there. They were trusting in our abilities to provide care for them.”

LUCOM has many goals for medical outreach events, one of which is aimed at providing access to evaluation and treatment resources for patients, another is establishing an opportunity for continuity of care leading to better health and more fulfilling lives. For LUCOM administration, the most important goal remains supporting and retaining the humanistic and service attitude that brought its student-doctors to LUCOM in the first place.

Kathy Bogacz, M.D., assesses patient with student-doctors.“The student-doctors were fantastic. They arrived early, were very well prepared, and had great attitudes. I am so amazed at their willingness to come on a Saturday, with tests around every corner - and for the second-year’s with boards coming up - and yet, they came willingly, with a smile, and worked so hard. They were very prepared, eager to see patients, and eager to learn from attending physicians,” said Kathy Bogacz, M.D., LUCOM assistant professor of internal medicine. 

Through the work of LUCOM student-doctors, PATHS is able to establish a relationship with many of the uninsured or underinsured patients in the region and hopefully prevent them from slipping through the cracks of the health care system in the future.

Domestic medical outreach events are a regular component of the LUCOM mission and are scheduled throughout the year. In addition, LUCOM has been a regular provider of medical services to underserved populations internationally, with a team from LUCOM scheduled to return to Zacapa, Guatemala, in June; this will be third trip to Guatemala since LUCOM’s initial medical outreach trip to the country in 2015.