Student Health Outreach for Wellness offers range of medical services for the underserved and — for the month of April — their pets, too
Monique Greco and Garnett Johnson might go hungry sometimes, but they make sure their dog Codi never does.
The homeless couple was visiting the Student Health Outreach for Wellness clinic (SHOW) in the heart of downtown Phoenix, which for the month of April also features pet-health services thanks to an ASU student’s initiative.
“Codi is everything to us,” said Greco about her 8-month-old pit bull, who was getting an exam, micro-chipped and a full set of vaccinations April 2.
“He’s our kid and we always put him first. If we’re hungry, the dog eats first.”
That sort of attitude goes a long way with Amber Howarth, who spearheads Wandering Paws, a mobile veterinarian clinic that has partnered with the Arizona Humane Society and services animals for the homeless and underserved.
Howarth, a 22-year-old ASU senior majoring in biological scienceHowarth is a student in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences., has a soft spot for animals. She’s developing a similar attitude towards the homeless population.
“I got involved with SHOW when my friend took me to one of their meetings and noting they serviced the homeless population. I thought, ‘Oh, I could add to this,’” said Howarth, who started the eight-week pilot program last month. “I’ve seen a lot of homeless people with pets and felt I could add a veterinary component to the clinic.”
The addition is welcome, and may help bring more notice to the human side of the clinic.
SHOW is a student-run, interdisciplinary team of volunteers from Arizona’s three state universities: Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona. Its mission is to provide holistic, client-centered health care for the homeless and underserved and operates in collaboration with the ASU Foundation. More than 150 students from 16 professional programs across the three universities worked together with faculty and community partners on the design, implementation and evaluation of the SHOW program.
The clinic, which has been open every Saturday since last August, has served more than 900 patients in its eight months of operation. Recent evaluations estimate that more than 27,000 Arizona residents experience homelessness each year.
SHOW operates out of Health Care for Homeless on the 12-acre Human Services Campus in downtown Phoenix to combat the weekend gap in health services while giving students real-world experience. Services are free to any individual meeting the medical or social-service criteria.
Students are supervised by licensed clinical faculty from the university and community providers, which includes ASU’s Dr. Liz HarrellHarrell is a clinical associate professor in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation., program director and psychiatric nurse.
“In 2001, The Institute of Medicine reviewed United States health care and reported that it needed to fundamentally change in order to provide quality health care,” Harrell said. “If you don’t have an employer that offers health care or you’re out of a job, you’re also out of luck. Those struggling with social disparities such as the homeless experience even poorer quality of care.”
Harrell said the World Health Organization (WHO) came up with three recommendations to improve health outcomes in this country: focus on the entire health-care population, improve cost and improve the patient experience. The WHO suggested interdisciplinary, or team-based care, was the best way to tackle all three.
“As educators we thought, ‘If this is the direction that health care is heading, then we need to teach that model,’” Harrell said. “The other question was, ‘How do you do that?’ SHOW really filled that practice place, and our patients are receiving a level of care they’ve never been privileged to have before and that’s incredibly meaningful.”
SHOW’s clinical health students range from nursing, social work, nutrition, medicine and pharmacy to audiology, speech pathology, physical therapy, business, journalism and computer science. They are responsible for the assessment, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care delivery for patients, and have implemented many innovative ideas in their program, including an electronic whiteboard filled with a patient’s information, combination of professionals from different medical fields, and a greeting from a “patient navigator.”