Magis Clinic Expands Offerings

Magis Clinic Expands Offerings

Creighton’s student-run, student-founded Magis Clinic, located at the Siena-Francis House homeless shelter near campus, has provided quality, compassionate health care to the underserved in Omaha since 2004.

And now the clinic has expanded its offerings. These new offerings include: a Student Navigator Program, in which undergraduate students serve as patient liaisons; a student-run pharmacy; an ultrasound clinic, staffed by medical students and radiology residents; and a Sexual Health Clinic, which began offering HIV and Hepatitis C testing in January.

Creighton University Magazine caught up with junior medical students Joel Fuchs, BS’12, and Daniel Dyer, co-directors of the Magis Clinic, and College of Arts and Sciences junior Emma Schaffer, a student navigator, to discuss the changes.

Why is it important to offer these new services?

Fuchs: Nothing is ever stagnant in the world of underserved health care and there will always be people who need care. Each of our patients comes to the clinic with a unique story filled with triumphs and tumbles. As future health care professionals, it is crucial that we do not overlook these stories. We could miss our chance to be creative in diagnosing, treating and connecting with that person. At Magis, we’re always looking for opportunities to connect with people and make sure nobody falls through the cracks.

Schaffer: The goal of the Magis Clinic is to provide health care services to those who cannot easily access this fundamental right. It is important to continue expanding the services of this clinic in order to provide as much support as possible to the homeless population. I believe that to build a strong community, it is vital to take care of the most vulnerable populations. Providing access to health care to people who are homeless increases the overall health of the Omaha community.

What has been the response to the Student Navigator Program?

Fuchs: Student navigators have enjoyed meeting patients and learning about their lives, which is a very enriching experience. We must continue to develop our avenues of getting in touch with patients. Many patients do not have phone numbers or contact information, but our navigators have been persistent and inventive when it comes to working with referral patients. From the beginning, we have reflected on the need to think outside the box when it comes to working with a transient population. I think it has been eye-opening for many students.

Schaffer: As a student navigator, I am privileged to offer my time and respect to people who are so often ignored by society. Homelessness is a large, complicated issue that seems impossible to solve. It is sometimes difficult to reach the patients, and their health care situations can be frustrating for both the patients and us. However, with every failure, there is also progress and a learning experience. I have gained a more personal perspective on homelessness and found that every issue is worth facing when a patient gets access to the services he or she needs.  

Can you talk about the new student-run pharmacy and its impact?

Dyer: Having an established pharmacy allows collaboration at Magis between students of different disciplines. This is especially important given how closely we will work with these colleagues in the future. As Magis officers, we seek ways to improve the quality and scope of the care that we are able to safely and responsibly provide at the clinic. Our goal is to break down the barriers to health care that our patients face. Over the past year, we started making reflection a designated part of meetings. By being mindful of what is going on at the clinic, we seek to grow in compassion and uphold the idea of being men and women for and with others.

How has serving at the Magis Clinic impacted you and your educational experience?

Dyer: The Magis Clinic has taught me that no kind act is small. We had a patient who needed an elbow brace, something we don’t have in the clinic. I purchased a brace for the patient, and didn’t think much of it. Several weeks later, the patient greeted me warmly, and said that he had been waiting at the clinic for me. He told me he had joined the Miracles Treatment Program a while ago, but the last time he and I had met had been a really dark day in his life. He had been thinking about dropping out of the program, but my small act of providing an elbow brace had been enough to keep him going. He told me I had saved his life that day. I was blown away and humbled. I believe it was God showing me how He works through even the smallest acts and the importance of being present for one another.

Schaffer: When I heard about the student navigator volunteer position, I immediately wanted to get involved because of my interests in social justice and medicine. The program has allowed me to learn about the Siena-Francis House, the health care system and the homeless population. The Magis Clinic provides patients with a referral telephone number, bus passes and appointment reminders so they can get the medical services they need. Working closely with patients allows us to gather feedback and determine if the services are successful. Patients are extremely appreciative.

What are some future goals for the Magis Clinic?

Dyer: We recently created a five-year vision for the clinic with main goals including education, patient collaboration and interdisciplinary collaboration. We hope to provide more information to our patients about their medical conditions and to medical students about the challenges and difficulties faced by patients. Similarly, we want to develop more ways for patients to have a voice in the care that is available to them, providing them a platform to speak through focus groups, surveys and patient representatives at meetings. We want to shape our services based on feedback from patients. There are also preliminary conversations with social work and dentistry, and one of our officers is working with Creighton staff and faculty to develop a smoking-cessation project.