Free student-run clinic provides health care to city’s most needy

UK’s Salvation Army Clinic may be the only access to health care for many in Lexington, but it also offers students an opportunity to learn about the medical field in a hands-on environment. 

The free clinic is run by UK medical students who provide health care to people who may not otherwise be able to afford it, taking walk-in appointments on a first come, first serve basis.

Clinic manager Ann Dickson, a second year medical student, said the clinic sees about six or seven patients a night.

“I think one thing that a lot of people don’t understand is that accessibility to health care is still very difficult,” Dickson said. “Just because you have health insurance doesn’t make it easy to get to a doctor or get an appointment.”

The Lexington Savation Army launched the clinic in 1986. Now, UK College of Medicine students run the project with oversight by a board of directors.

In addition to physicians, UKSAC relies on volunteers including undergraduate, medical  and pharmacy students during clinic hours from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday nights.

“(UKSAC) enables interested and concerned medical students to help treat and serve the population,” said Eric Weber, a second year medical student who serves as one of UKSAC’s clinic managers. “It also provides extended training for students outside the academic medical school.”

Weber said when the Affordable Care Act was passed, many free health clinics, similar to UKSAC, were unsure if they would still have patients.

“We are still full almost every night,” Weber said.

Besides general clinic appointments, UKSAC offers free smoking cessation, a nutrition clinic and a small pharmacy for its patients.

“We (stock the pharmacy) very cheaply, too,” Mary Greenwood, UKSAC financial manager and a second year medical student, said. “It costs us about $21 for just one patient.”

UKSAC receives most of its funds from donations, self-fundraising and grants. The UK College of Medicine typically holds an annual “casino night” fundraiser for UKSAC at the end of April.

“(The casino night) is open to anyone who wants to come,” Greenwood said.

UKSAC is located at 736 W. Main St. in the Salvation Army building.

By McKenna Horsley

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