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Dr. Jenny Lin and Dr. David Thomas, executive director of East Harlem Health Outreach Partnership (EHHOP) of Mount Sinai School of Medicine.


Uninsured immigrants, majority of whom are undocumented, in poor health and work long hours, have been getting free medical help — and hope — in a health clinic in Harlem, N.Y., manned by a devoted cadre of Mount Sinai School of Medicine students.

“Every Saturday, at a clinic at 17 East 102nd Street (between Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue) in East Harlem, a medical miracle is occurring,” reports the New York Post, referring to the red tape-free clinic made possible by East Harlem Health Outreach Partnership (EHHOP).

“I am so proud of this,” says Dr. Yasmin S. Meah, one of the founders of EHHOP, which is partnered with the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Meah is the youngest recipient of the 2007 Humanism in Medicine Award from the American Association of Medical Colleges, for helping Mt. Sinai students overcome the legal and bureaucratic issues in starting the outreach program in 2004.

At the clinic, students do everything, from manning the front desk to diagnosing conditions to researching treatments for a variety of health issues, some already in advanced stages.

“Our students,” Meah says, “are so aggressive in finding solutions.”

Meah notes that some of their patients have not seen a doctor in decades.

“We see a lot of uncontrolled diabetes in folks who have not seen a doctor in a long time,” she tells the Post, adding that East Harlem has the highest rates of diabetes, coronary artery disease, obesity and asthma in New York City.

“I think, socio-economically, our patients are poor in this area and [that] there is a high density of immigrants with limited English proficiency,” she points out.

“These people don’t understand what it is.”

When left untreated, diabetes can lead to blindness, ulcers of the feet and kidney disease.

“Our focus,” she says, “is trying to prevent the late-stage effects.”

The clinic also provides mental health treatment and social work services to victims of domestic violence and patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.

PTSD is more common than one might think, Meah says, “particularly in Mexican immigrants who have escaped border issues or African immigrants who have escaped torture. Many have come from situations I can’t imagine.”

Meah says proper nutrition is a cornerstone to good health.

Yet in East Harlem, there is little access to affordable, healthy food, she says.

Fortunately, an antidote to this issue is not only the nutritional counseling offered by the clinic, but the Mount Sinai Green Market, located on the corner of 99th Street and Madison Avenue.

“The idea is to offer food that is fresh and off the farm,” she says.

And the student doctors of Mount Sinai are there at the market too — situated among the bushels of lettuce and tomatoes — to monitor blood pressure and glucose levels.

Funded primarily by private donations and grants, the EHHOP is open to adults 21 years and over, and also offers gynecological care, HIV/AIDS testing and counseling, and laboratory work, as well as a host of other services.

“The bottom line,” Meah says, “is that this is such a great service endeavor, and we’re servicing our population so well.”

EHHOP is staffed each week by approximately 15 Mount Sinai medical students from all class years and two volunteer attending physicians.

EHHOP functions as a primary care clinic where students serve as clinical teams, composed of a senior and a junior clinician, clinic manager, lab personnel, patient advocates, and several other positions necessary to maintain a functioning clinic.

Students see all patients under the supervision of faculty from the General Internal Medicine Division of the Mount Sinai Hospital Center.

The staff also includes a social worker who provides screenings for insurance eligibility, psychosocial counseling and referrals to other agencies.

Today, more than 60 percent of the student body and nearly 60 Mount Sinai physicians volunteer their time in EHHOP every year.

The clinic is open Saturdays, 9 a. m. to noon.

For appointments and other information, call 646.942.6519 or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

To donate, visit eastharlemhealth.org

 

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