ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Medical students in New Mexico are helping a community in need in a big way, providing care for the sick who have no where else to go.
One man explained to KRQE News 13 how his health took a turn for the worst, and how he credits students for helping him get back on track.
Joseph Rodriguez is battling several health problems. “I have heart disease, I have kidney disease, my liver is bad, I suffer from PTSD you know when I served in the Marine Corp,” Rodriquez explained.
He’s also homeless, so getting treatment or even a place to sleep was tough, until he and several others discovered Albuquerque Heading Home, and the Albuquerque Opportunity Center campus.
More than 100 volunteers help people like Rodriguez at the facility. “I’m very grateful for this place, I would have probably been deceased already if it was not for AOC,” said Rodriguez.
Every Tuesday night, UNM med students lead a clinic and offer free healthcare services to homeless men. The program grew each year when professors saw the need and an opportunity for their students to gain hands-on experience.
“The residents that you see that are homeless have the same chronic diseases and illness that you see in the general population, but usually much worse, much less controlled, and on top of all of that they have a scarcity of resources,” explained Cynthia Arndell, a UNM Physician and Associate Professor.
For the students, the practice is invaluable. “I really love the fact that we can come here and apply what we’ve been learning in our classroom, bring it to the clinic and even better bring it to a setting that needs us to come in,” said Kara Rechard, a student Physical Therapist.
“We go through these classes, we spend hours in class, and to actually put it into practice and feel like we’re helping somebody, its a great achievement for us,” said Monique Dodd, a UNM Pharmacy Student.
Rodriquez has been at the clinic since September. He’s fighting addiction, recently regained his eyesight, and made friends there.
“People that work here, they’re very awesome. It’s not a job to them,” said Rodriguez. “I think, it’s more their way of giving back to society.”
It’s a job students and their professors are working on continuing.
Rodriguez is working on finding a home soon. The clinic is every Tuesday night from 6 – 9 p.m. and run entirely by volunteers.