SEAHEC led a three day service learning experience from June 13-15 in Nogales AZ/Sonora. Eight FRONTERA Border Health Scholars participated in hands-on learning about the top health issues impacting Arizona border communities and the health service systems serving each side of the border. This interdisciplinary team of Masters of Public Health students, Pre-Med students, and a Physician’s Assistant student participated in educational visits and service projects with a wide variety of health organizations from both sides of the border including:
- The Mariposa Community Health Center in Nogales, Arizona
- The Centro de Salud Epidemiology outreach team in Nogales, Sonora
- The General Hospital of Nogales, Sonora
- The Integrated HIV/AIDS Clinic in Nogales, Sonora, recently opened in December 2011
- The Kino Border Initiative’s Migrant First Aid Station
- Venciendo el Autismo (Overcoming Autism) – a parent-driven center for autistic children
Each day, students ended by reflecting on how their experiences here impacted their career interests, relate to the work they do in their home communities, and challenged their existing ideas and perspectives about the border.
At the Mariposa Community Health Center, students learned about the critical role in the health system in rural communities played by Community Health Centers, the focus on prevention and community health education at MCHC, and shadowed maternal and child health Community Health Workers for pre-natal and post-birth home visits for young mothers.
With the Centro de Salud Epidemiology team, students accompanied nurses going door-to-door in a neighborhood of Nogales, Sonora where cases of ricketsia (rocky mountain spotted fever) had been reported. They informed families about risk factors, signs and symptoms, and two children were identified with symptoms for a follow-up home visit with a doctor.
Three students stayed an extra day on Saturday, June 16th to help with a day-long health fair at the General Hospital focused on vision screenings among diabetics. The purpose of the fair was to identify retinal degeneration that is a complication of diabetes and can lead to blindness. Over 120 individuals participated in the vision screenings, and about 70 were found to have signs of retinopathy and stayed for the afternoon in order to receive free laser eye surgery. (What role did students have?)
Overall, students were deeply motivated by the commitment and innovation they saw among the health workforce of Ambos Nogales, and three of the eight have decided to work with Nogales-based organizations for their summer-long research project.
SEAHEC partnered with The University of Arizona Office of Outreach and Multicultural Affairs (OMA) and the Arizona Hispanic Center of Excellence (AHCOE) to create the FRONTERA program. The program’s goals include improving the health of people living in medically-underserved Arizona communities by developing educational opportunities for health profession students that will enhance the recruitment, education, and retention of a diverse, culturally competent, and “research savvy” health workforce.