JeffHOPE provides care to those in need.
Through JeffHOPE, medical students provide care to the homeless and underserved populations in Philadelphia. However, like all facets of life during the pandemic, the student-run organization needed to pivot.
To best support those in need, first- and second-year medical students assisted patients via telemedicine, communicating with iPads to provide education on relevant conditions and counseling on accessing insurance. Third- and fourth-year students would continue to visit homeless shelters and clinics if a patient needed physical assistance. This hybrid model allowed for patients to learn from the students and students to learn from each other.
“At first, we were nervous because so much of JeffHOPE is about being in-person,” says Maddie McGovern, co-president of JeffHOPE. “Students become so involved with their patients, and we weren’t sure it would be as effective online. Fortunately, students have still been able to form bonds with these patients and have gained the respect of the shelter residents.”
As COVID-19 restrictions relax, first- and second-year students will ease their way back into the shelter clinics over the coming weeks. Even though they’ve worked well remotely, students look forward to gaining their “boots-on-the-ground” training.
First-year student Anusha Koka had never used telehealth before working at JeffHOPE. “Through JeffHOPE’s commitment to telemedicine, we were able to continue our work within the community,” she says. “We, as medical students inaugurated in the uncertainty and fear of a pandemic, found ourselves spared from the deprivation of patient interactions so many of our peers faced. JeffHOPE has been a gift, allowing us to enter and learn from the worlds of the truly amazing individuals in our community.”
In clinics, students focus on addressing the psychosocial needs of patients and provide education on the risks of smoking, wound care and conditions, such as diabetes. They then connect patients with primary care physicians who can manage their long-term health conditions. At least one attending physician is present at each clinic should they be needed for assistance.
Dr. Robert Motley, chair of JeffHOPE, applauded the students for their effort during such a challenging year.
“It’s been amazing to see how our students have integrated telehealth with in-person care to maximize patient access and student involvement,” he says. “They bring hope to patients while challenging the rest of us to keep up with them.”
It’s been amazing to see how our students have integrated telehealth with in-person care to maximize patient access and student involvement. –Dr. Robert Motley, Chair of JeffHOPE
This year has taught students to be adaptable, says Julia Dewey, co-president of JeffHOPE.
“We’ve had to alter how we provide services to our patients,” she says. “Our continued goal is to work on connecting our patients with vaccinations—whether that be administering them ourselves or referring them to vaccination sites. Ideally, we hope to obtain a supply of our own to administer in the coming weeks.”