Penn State

Penn State med students hit the road to check out local health resources

Kristi Mattzela, center, gives a tour of the Centre Volunteers in Medicine facility. The Penn State College of Medicine Road Scholars Tour Health and Human Services Day was held Wed. October 22, 2014.
Kristi Mattzela, center, gives a tour of the Centre Volunteers in Medicine facility. The Penn State College of Medicine Road Scholars Tour Health and Human Services Day was held Wed. October 22, 2014. CDT photo

There was a full house at Centre Volunteers in Medicine on Wednesday. There were plenty of patients, as always, but this time, the place was top-heavy with doctors, or at least, doctors-to-be.

CVIM was one stop on the Road Scholars Tour, the Penn State Hershey College of Medicine’s University Park Regional Campus’ bus trip around Centre County to experience different ways people get services from different agencies.

The stops included places that were obviously medical, such as Mount Nittany Physician Group’s offices in Penns Valley or the Centre Crest nursing home. Others touch on related issues or help connect clients with needs to assistance, such as Cen-Clear Child Services or the Centre County Women’s Resource Center.

At CVIM, clinical services supervisor Kristi Mattzela showed off the free clinic’s facilities, including medical and dental suites, a dispensary and other services that keep thousands of Centre County residents without health insurance connected to care.

For many of the students, it was something they already knew about because the medical school and some Penn State pre-med students rotate through periodically.

“Our goal is to create a learning opportunity here,” said Michael Flanagan, interim associate dean for educational affairs at the campus.

Students like Seemal Awan are connecting to that.

“I think we’re getting more accountability,” she said. While working in the clinic recently, she helped a patient with metastatic prostate cancer who was in pain. She spent 45 minutes with the man, learning about him and his needs.

“I felt like it was my job to figure it out.”

The University Park students took the opportunity to see how all the pieces of someone’s health can come together in a way that can’t come from a book.

“You get a good picture of what it means to be a part of a health care team,” Joe Andrie said. “It gives you a good anchor, knowing where your patients are coming from.”

One doctor in the team was decidedly not local. Farba Faye is visiting Penn State Hershey’s campuses from Senegal, where he is the director of an emergency medicine department.

“This is my first experience, seeing how things are done here,” he said. Faye comes from an area where health care is much less expensive than it is in the United States, but still out of reach for many patients. He would like to be able to provide the same kind of free services at home that he saw at CVIM.

That’s a message that still hit home for the local med students.

“The experience today is showing that some of the people who need the health care most are the ones not getting it,” he said.

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