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AZ: MWU Homeless Outreach Program Begins 10th Year

September 18, 2008

by Karen Mattox

Midwestern University students and two local homeless shelters continue to join forces in providing care to the Phoenix Valley homeless community.

Since 1999, MWU's Homeless Outreach through Medicine & Education (HOME) Project has been delivering much-needed medical care and preventive education at the Central Arizona Shelter Services, Inc. (CASS) and the UMOM New Day Centers (UMOM). Under the supervision of physician faculty, students from the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine (AZCOM) and other MWU programs provide free acute medical care on a weekly basis, along with referrals for patients needing treatment beyond the program's scope.

While at-risk patients receive needed treatment, the students gain opportunities to utilize their diagnosis and treatment skills and become personally acquainted with a patient population to which they might not otherwise be exposed. Because of their osteopathic training, AZCOM students and faculty can also offer hands-on manipulative treatment when applicable. This treatment can be especially important for homeless patients, who may often have unstable living conditions, high exposure to unsafe environments, or poor mental health.

Alan Schalscha, D.O., HOME medical director and Clinical Assistant Professor of Family Medicine, is the physician supervisor for the project. Ross Kosinski, Ph.D., Dean of Students, helped set up the program in 1999, and is currently working to build a true interdisciplinary team of students to visit the shelters. "This is a perfect opportunity for students from all MWU programs, from medicine to physician assistant, podiatry, and pharmacy, to learn to work together now, as they will be doing as future health care professionals," he says.

The HOME project presently serves an average of 60 patients per month, with the participation of more than 500 MWU students per academic year. It has been made possible thanks to community donations and increased volunteer involvement.

Both shelters welcome visitors from the media throughout Midwestern University's academic year. CASS (230 South 12th Ave) visits occur Tuesday of every week and UMOM (3320 East Van Buren Street) visits take place every other Monday; site visits run from approximately 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM.

More Information

For more information, please contact:
Karen Mattox