University of South Florida

BRIDGE Clinic going strong 15 years after founding

Back in 2007, four University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine (MCOM) students started a student-run free clinic with a couple of exam rooms at the Hillsborough Health Department and an idea to help the underserved communities surrounding the university.

“We wanted to establish somewhere (that) is more a pillar for the community,” said Waldo Guerrero, MD, one of the co-founders of the BRIDGE Clinic. “What really drove the idea of the clinic was having a more substantiable way to provide care to the underserved folks.”

Fifteen years later, the BRIDGE Clinic encompasses more than 20 exam rooms in The USF Carol and Frank Morsani Center for Advanced Healthcare and the volunteer services of USF students from medicine, pharmacy, public health, social work and physical therapy. The experience not only helps the students care for their neighbors but also assists their health care education.

“It was a great opportunity for me to be able to give back to the community while also getting a lot of hands-on experience,” said Marissa Maldonado, a fourth-year MCOM medical student.

The clinic has grown in response to rising demand for medical services among the uninsured and underserved in the community. The US Census Bureau reports that 14.9 percent of people 65 and under lack health insurance, and the Florida Department of Health says that 15.7 percent of employed people in Hillsborough County do not have insurance.

“The proudest moments are every Tuesday night after clinic is done, “said Eduardo Gonzalez, MD, co-medical director of the BRIDGE clinic. “Patients were seen and provided wonderful care that they otherwise they would not have been able to obtain.”

Donations are welcome to maintain and grow the clinic.

“Whatever gift is given, it will be used,” Dr. Gonzalez said. “It will be used 100 percent in the caring of patients.”



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