Warriors for collaborative care

Across our schools and colleges, Warriors are working hard to serve the health needs of our community — often bringing resources to vulnerable populations that otherwise might not have access to basic care. Our cooperative approach is resulting in major strides for the city of Detroit, as patients receive better care, and students benefit from an innovative education where they are able to assess the health of an individual from multiple perspectives. 
 

Interdisciplinary programs

Bridging the gap

On the third Sunday of each month, medical, pharmacy and social work students at Wayne State University visit the Cathedral Church of St. Paul to provide care to Detroit’s homeless community. 

Known as the Community Homeless Interprofessional Program Clinic, this initiative sees second-year medical and pharmacy students working with social work students to offer basic medical and pharmacy evaluations, along with health and community resource education.

The clinic was launched after the Very Rev. S. Scott Hunter approached the Wayne State University School of Medicine with an opportunity for medical students to examine the homeless population, who might not otherwise be able to visit a clinic. “However,” as Jennifer Mendez, Ph.D., program supervisor, associate professor and director of co-curricular programs at the School of Medicine says, “I didn’t feel that it would just be medicine that would be needed.” So, she reached out to a range of disciplines including pharmacy, social work, nursing, and occupational and physical therapy.

We identified a need to give patients an opportunity to see us in a more comfortable setting.

Jeremy DeLor

The student-led community clinic launched in 2014. Hunter sees this initiative as an “opportunity to begin a conversation about medical care without barriers” — which Jeremy DeLor, Pharm.D. ’18, observed during his experience at the Community Homeless Interprofessional Program Clinic. 

“There is something called ‘white coat syndrome’ where, a lot of times, patients won’t be comfortable seeing their doctor,” he says. “We see this a lot in this particular patient population, so we identified a need to give patients an opportunity to see us in a more comfortable setting.” 

Says faculty volunteer Gregory Zemenick, M.D. ’71, “This is a unique, exemplary program that has found its legs and hopefully can be used as a model in different parts of the city with different groups.” 
 

Bringing health home

Wayne State University’s Interprofessional Team Home Visit Program connects students from the School of Medicine, Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, College of Nursing, and the School of Social Work with older adults to conduct home visits. The award-winning program seeks to introduce Warriors to the demands of assessing older adult health and social needs in a home environment. 

It’s not just a physician talking to a patient — it’s a physician communicating with their surroundings, with a pharmacist, with a social worker, to provide the most optimum care.

Tanuka Datta

“We go through their medications, their herbals, their vitamins, and we talk to them and see if they know why they’re on them and how they’re taking them,” says Corey Tschannen, Pharm.D. ’15. “We also talk about lifestyle interventions like exercise and diet — things that they can do to change their health.”

Working with older adults through the Interprofessional Team Home Visit Program has been especially enlightening for Tanuka Datta, M.D. ’15, who was exposed to the program as a first-year medical student. “I see that it’s not just a physician talking to a patient — it’s a physician communicating with their surroundings, with a pharmacist, with a social worker, to provide the most optimum care to the patient.”

Adds Tschannen, “It’s great that Wayne State offers this opportunity to us to work as a whole team and better manage a patient’s health care. The more we have an opportunity to have these real-life experiences, the more we are able to grow — and help the community grow with us.”
 

Supporting vulnerable populations

A helping hand

For survivors of intimate partner violence, the path from pain to power is challenging and often unclear. The new Community Advocacy Project (CAP) aims to guide survivors as they navigate that path and regain control of their lives.

It’s one thing to read about a theory and statistics in a book, but it’s something else entirely to sit next to someone you can help with that knowledge.

Kimberly McDowell

CAP, which is funded by the Michigan Crime Victim Services Commission, is one way that Wayne State University’s Center for Urban Studies is addressing domestic/intimate partner violence. The 10-week program partners advocates, who complete 40 hours of certified training, with Detroit-area survivors. 

Advocates — many of whom are WSU student volunteers majoring in criminal justice; social work; sociology; psychology; public health; or gender, sexuality and women’s studies — work with or on behalf of survivors in their homes or at another preferred location. They provide assistance with safety planning, petitions for personal protection orders, navigating legal processes, and connecting with resources such as counseling and shelter. 

“It’s one thing to read about a theory and statistics in a book,” says advocate Kimberly McDowell, “but it’s something else entirely to sit next to someone you can help with that knowledge.”

McDowell, who is pursuing a master’s in social work after earning her bachelor’s in psychology from WSU, became one of the program’s first advocates to help change the perception of survivors — an idea that, as CAP project coordinator Kate Oleksiak observes, has both a unique and systemic impact. 

“We work, of course, to provide individualized support to the survivors,” Oleksiak says, “but in empowering them to regain control of their lives, we’re also working toward the larger goal of creating safer, more empowered communities.”
 

Connecting with our community

Board by board, house by house, a village made by and for the people it will serve is being established on Detroit’s west side — and the Wayne State University School of Medicine is playing a key role in its development.

Auntie Na’s House is a nonprofit organization that will include a new, student-run clinic focused on women’s health. The clinic will be located on the first floor of a home across the street from the original site that is now being renovated by members of the School of Medicine’s Auntie Na’s student organization.

The medical house, as it is known, is already the site of tutoring on the second floor, not to mention art projects by children who participate in Auntie Na’s community enrichment programming (think summer camps and monthly street bazaar fundraisers). Earlier this year, Warriors planted a medicinal garden of Echinacea and other flowers and herbs on the home’s front lawn. 

The student organization formed when second-year School of Medicine students — who had volunteered at Auntie Na’s House for their Year 1 required service-learning project — wanted to continue their efforts.

Once completed, the medical house will be considered part of Auntie Na’s Village — houses being remodeled or rebuilt on the same street as Auntie Na’s, a vibrant two-story home that has been in one family for six generations. The village will include a nutrition house, a clothing house and other buildings aimed at caring for the community at large, particularly children. 

The Auntie Na’s student organization formed in 2018 after second-year School of Medicine students — who had volunteered at Auntie Na’s House for their Year 1 required service-learning project — wanted to continue their efforts. This is the same group that, using a $2,000 grant from Gleaners Community Food Bank and Campbell’s Soups, host “Heart Smarts” events on Tuesday and Thursday evenings in front of E&N Market in Detroit. Here, students perform health screenings, discuss the individual’s diet, and present him or her with a healthy eating plan. From there, another student accompanies individuals in the store, recommending better food options, reviewing nutritional labels, and providing $6 to shop for fresh produce, water, milk or eggs. 
 

Breaking down barriers

In fall 2017, 11 young women walked into a prison on Detroit’s east side. They weren’t there to be processed or clock in to work, though. 

Instead, they were there to earn college credit as the first cohort of Warriors participating in the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, which is organized by College of Liberal Arts and Sciences faculty member Matt Larson. The international program brings traditional college students, future prosecutors and FBI agents together with prison inmates for a semester-long course exploring criminal justice.

There’s a certain amount of inward reflection that’s necessary to get to the root of what this course is about.

Ebonie Byndon-Fields

Held within the walls of the Detroit Reentry Center, a correctional facility that works to reintegrate inmates into society, Demystifying Mass Incarceration is not your average course. It is taught using a dialogic teaching model where students interact directly through face-to-face conversation. 

“In this setting, I’m more of a moderator,” says Ebonie Byndon-Fields, who formerly ran the program while a criminal justice lecturer at Wayne State. “I’m there to facilitate discussion and create an atmosphere where the students are comfortable opening up to each other. There’s a certain amount of inward reflection that’s necessary to get to the root of what this course is about.”

What the course is about, according to Byndon-Fields, is breaking down misconceptions and stereotypes to explore the humanistic aspect of what it means to be incarcerated. “We’re crossing social barriers and ultimately creating more empathic future justice professionals,” she says. “In the end, both our ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ students are the ones teaching each other.”