Timmy Global Health WSU offers all students the chance to impact global health equity

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November 9, 2016

Sergio and Tannia Rodriguez-Valenzuela believe that everyone should have access to quality health care and that everyone — no matter their background or skills — can contribute.

The siblings, both international students of Chilean descent and seniors at Wayne State University, put those beliefs in action when they founded a chapter of the national nonprofit group Timmy Global Health at WSU in July 2013. The group works to expand access to health care and empower students to take on local and global health challenges.

In the short time they’ve been on campus, Timmy Global Health WSU has already made a significant impact. Last August, 14 of the group’s members spent a week in the Dominican Republic providing medical care to more than 400 patients.

The group, which currently includes about 50 members, is open to students of any major, and there are no GPA or fee requirements.

“We believe that as long as you want to help the community, you should be able to. Compassion for those in need isn’t restricted to any one major,” said Sergio, a biomedical physics major. “You can help in many ways — maybe you’re bilingual and you can translate, maybe you’re good with computers and you can help organize information.”

While in the Dominican Republic, the students partnered with a staff of medical volunteers to set up provisional clinics. At these clinics, volunteers work to gather medical history and provide patients with consultations, treatments and prescriptions.

“Basic vitamins and over-the-counter pain medication are luxuries for these patients. The patients know when we’re arriving and they await the clinics,” said Tannia, a biomedical engineering major. “As a group, Timmy Global Health believes in sustainable, continuous care. No one — in any country — receives proper health care if they visit a doctor once and never come back.”

To ensure sustainable, continuous care, some members of the volunteer medical staff live on site, and one of Timmy Global Health’s 45 nationwide chapters visits every two months.

“This group encourages students to think globally. I think globalization really humanizes people — it goes beyond national borders and lets you learn that we, as humans, have a lot in common,” said Jorge Chinea, who serves as the group’s faculty advisor in addition to his roles as associate professor of history and director of the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies. “A lot of students see what’s going on in the world and they come to realize there’s a lot of need for goodwill ambassadors outside of the U.S. Timmy Global Health gives them the opportunity to help themselves grow and help others at the same time.”

While WSU’s Timmy Global Health chapter visits the Dominican Republic every August, they work locally throughout the year. The group hosts local clinics and volunteers with community outreach groups, including the Detroit Rescue Mission and the Detroit Goodfellows. 

Students interested in joining the group can simply attend one of their weekly meetings, held on Wednesdays at 2 p.m. in the Student Center. To learn more, contact Timmy Global Health at 313-377-8577 or TimmyWsu@wayne.edu.

Timmy Global Health WSU will host its annual fundraising banquet on Saturday, Nov. 19. Proceeds will support the group’s 2017 trip to the Dominican Republic.