BRIDGE Clinic team celebrates a busy year, so far

USF’s student-directed BRIDGE Clinic has been busy so far in 2011, hosting its annual appreciation banquet, earning a grant, and tripling its patient volume since opening four years ago.

On March 25, the BRIDGE Clinic used its 4th annual appreciation banquet to spotlight those who helped the clinic continue its efforts to offer free health clinic services to uninsured patients in the University Community Area.

The annual event serves to acknowledge BRIDGE Clinic volunteers, including physicians, residents, medical students, interpreters, physical therapy BRIDGE members, and social work BRIDGE members, public health BRIDGE members, as well as members of the community. Last year, the BRIDGE Clinic donations totaled $21,000, including support from Stephen Klasko, MD, MBA, dean of the USF College of Medicine and CEO for USF Health, and the Baxter International Foundation. Those funds helped the Clinic hire a full-time nurse practitioner.

From left, Heather Maroney, Soha Patel, Tresa Lombardi, Nina Paidas-Teefey, (all directors of BRIDGE), and Yalile Perez, clinic manager.

In addition to a dinner and awards program, the evening included introductions of incoming clinic directors Shields Duss, Cristen Litz, Mai Otsuka, and Fauzia Riaz, acknowledgement of outgoing clinic directors Tresa Lombardi, Heather Maroney, Nina Paidas, and Soha Patel and faculty advisers Drs. Lucy Guerra and Eduardo Gonzalez, as well as music by the USF Ultrasounds.

Last month, the BRIDGE Clinic was awarded a $35,000 grant from the Cardinal Health Foundation to help fund an electronic medical records (EMR) system for the clinic.

AN EMR system was among the top funding priorities for the clinic and the grant will help toward the purchase of the Allscripts system, including wireless internet service and equipment, patient data scanning fees, iPads, and EMR training for staff.

And after opening only four years ago, the clinic has tripled its patient volume.

Currently housed in the health department’s University Area Community Health Center, just blocks away from USF’s Tampa campus, the BRIDGE Clinic is clearly meeting a community need, said Soha Patel, MD, who just graduated May 5 from the USF College of Medicine and is a clinical director for the BRIDGE Clinic.

“Since opening nearly four years ago, we have tripled the number of patients we see and care for,” Patel said.

“We look forward to continued growth and serving an even greater number of patients in need.”

The BRIDGE Healthcare Clinic opened in October 2007 as a student-run free clinic located just west of USF in the heart of the University Area Community. BRIDGE stands for Building Relationships and Initiatives Dedicated to Gaining Equality.

The Bridge Healthcare Clinic encourages collaboration among medical students at all levels to learn how community needs can be met. The clinic provides a setting for USF Health students and undergraduate patient advocates to gain hands-on experience in culturally competent medicine, while learning about the challenges of practicing medicine with underserved patients.

Along with primary care, the clinic provides access to medications, social services, physical therapy, health education, health screenings, vaccinations and other public health and support services. The Bridge Healthcare Clinic is sponsored by USF Health, the Florida Department of Health, Quest Diagnostics, Allscripts, Moffitt Cancer Center, and the American Medical Association.

The BRIDGE Clinic also earned last year the Award of Excellence from the Lt. Governor for the State of Florida for its contributions to the local community. Also, during the 2010 holiday season, thirty BRIDGE families were sponsored for turkey dinners, gifts for their children and meal trimmings for their holiday meal. Donations from USF volunteers and USF COM faculty totaled more than $3500.

For more information go to the BRIDGE web site.

Story by Sarah A. Worth, USF Health Office of Communications