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Med School Students Build Healthier St. Louis Through Community Service Projects

by Maggie Rotermund on 03/23/2018
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Twenty members of the Saint Louis University School of Medicine Class of 2018 were honored recently for their four-year commitment to the Ignatian model of serving the needs of others in the community. 

The honorees are part of the Rodney M. Coe Distinction in Community Service Program, which is a longitudinal, faculty-mentored community service program.

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Amanda Zinger, left, and Rimmy Garg, right, explain their Coe Distinction project, "Food and Fitness: Nutrition for Better Health," at the Rodney M. Coe Distinction in Community Service reception. Photo by Maggie Rotermund

The Distinction requires students to complete a minimum of 180 hours of health-related service over four years and to partner with the community on a project in response to community need. 

Christine Jacobs, M.D., interim chair of the department of family and community medicine, noted that the service projects undertaken by this year's honorees reached multiple populations and needs.

"This is the definition of community medicine," she said. "Your projects have touched so many people." 

Fred Rottnek, M.D., director of community medicine at SLU and Coe mentor, praised the students for living the mission of SLU.

"You are getting into the turbulent waters of that which needs to be addressed in health care today," Rottnek said. "You are an extraordinary class." 

Rimmy Garg and Amanda Zinger looked at improving health through better nutrition and education. Their project provided blood pressure screenings and education at St. Louis MetroMarket stops.

The MetroMarket, the brainchild of SLU School of Medicine graduate Jeremy Goss and Washington University graduates Colin Dowling and Tej Azad, is a retrofitted city bus that operates as a mobile farmers’ market in St. Louis food deserts. 

Daniel Kornfeld's project aimed to improve the overall health care provided at SLU's Health Resource Center by tracking prescription data for patients of the asthma and allergy clinic.  

"Most of the patient population at the clinic qualifies for prescription assistance programs offered through drug companies," he said. 

HRC volunteers were helping patients enroll in these programs, but Kornfeld's project looked at the follow-up to see how the student volunteers can help patients maintain their drug regimen and keep up with enrollment documents.

"Many of these programs have options to re-enroll after a year, but if you miss that application you have to start all over again and that can mean going without needed medication," Kornfeld said.

Coe mentors also include Kelly Everard, Ph.D., David Pole, Ph.D., and Nicole Wiethop.

2018 Coe Distinction Projects

  • Emily Adamson – Swimming and Water Safety for St. Louis Refugees
  • Suhita Alluri – Cancer Screening Education for the St. Louis Homeless Population
  • Trixie Amorado and Lauren Klapp – Well Girl Leads to Well Women
  • Michael Baltes – Health Resource Center Diabetes Clinic
  • Cameron Barr – Project CCAP: Clinical Cases for Anatomy and Physiology
  • Justin Dey – Appreciating the Patient’s Perspective: Developing Curriculum for a New Preclinical Student Elective
  • Rimmy Garg and Amanda Zinger – Food and Fitness: Nutrition for Better Health
  • Mackenzie Harms – SLU Sight: Making Eye Care Accessible
  • John Heafner – Building Organizational Sustainability at the Criminal Justice Ministry
  • Hannah Kertz – Almost Home Fitness Challenge
  • Daniel Kornfeld – Medical Student Clinics and Their Role in Long Term Patient Care
  • Megan Miller – Meet Your Care Team
  • Gaytri Patel – Asthma and Allergy Outreach
  • Simi Sharma and Sharvina Ziyeh – Near-Peer Mentorship
  • Patrice Vallot and Alexis Webber – Health Education and Resource Outreach (HERO) for Parents
  • Amanda Waltos Hieger – Optimizing the Health Resource Center Experience: Improving Clinic Flow and Patient Education.

Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first medical degree west of the Mississippi River. The school educates physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health care on a local, national and international level. Research at the school seeks new cures and treatments in five key areas: infectious disease, liver disease, cancer, heart/lung disease, and aging and brain disorders.