Student Health Action Coalition provides accessible health care to the UNC community


Pupil Well being Motion Coalition, also referred to as SHAC, is the primary student-run free clinic within the nation and is dedicated to offering the UNC neighborhood with accessible and high-quality well being care.

SHAC is an interdisciplinary workforce made up of medical college students, pharmacy college students, nursing college students and public well being undergraduates. The workforce works collectively to serve sufferers within the basic Chapel Hill-Carrboro space. 

There are numerous clinics inside SHAC that present particular companies reminiscent of imaginative and prescient care, oral care, hormone alternative remedy, psychological well being companies and OB/GYN care.

Taruni Santanam, SHAC co-director and UNC medical eeeestudent, stated the clinic encourages and prioritizes serving uninsured and underinsured sufferers, however they’re out there for anybody who chooses to make use of their companies. 

SHAC is run solely by pupil volunteers, and Santanam stated there are specific advantages to pupil involvement in this system. 

“I feel having college students be part of SHAC’s mission is a pleasant intersection of service and training,” she stated. “And we’re blissful to help each of these missions.”

Heather Shams, SHAC co-director and UNC medical pupil, stated she works with the overall clinic however there are others inside the coalition. The most important subdivision is Bridge to Care (BTC) which offers with persistent situations like arthritis, diabetes and hypertension. 

Different subdivisions embrace ophthalmology, psychological well being, gender-affirming care and a bodily remedy clinic. They’re additionally beginning a brand new clinic known as Wholesome Residing that’s going to be centered on weight reduction.

Santanam stated that, whereas a lot of the medical service clinics are operated by medical college students, SHAC collaborates with inter-professional faculties for different companies.

She additionally stated as they’re transitioning again to full clinics, SHAC is encouraging partnerships and revamping quite a lot of their clinics to allow them to present extra companies. 

Moreover, Shams stated there’s a workforce of medical college students and social employees devoted to serving the social drivers of the sufferers’ well being wants. These companies can embrace aiding in filling out charity care and unemployment kinds and offering meals.

Shams stated SHAC has a subdivision named Flourish, which works to equip low-income people and households with the sources they should make wholesome meal selections. Flourish works with a meals financial institution in Durham that coordinates weekly meals donations.

SHAC has volunteers that choose up 10-14 containers with perishable meals like milk, yogurt, fruit and greens each Wednesday.

“It is out there for all our sufferers, and even simply neighborhood members,” Shams stated. “If we all know a affected person or neighborhood member that’s meals insecure, we inform them they’re welcome to come back by Wednesday and choose up a field for themselves or neighbors.” 

Elizabeth Laska, the SHAC chief advertising officer, stated the COVID-19 pandemic had varied impacts on how the clinic operated. She stated there was a time when the clinic was successfully shut down.

“We reopened Wednesday nights on July 3,” Laska stated. “Then we additionally operated telehealth companies, which we’re truly nonetheless doing right here. And so they’re undoubtedly prioritizing extra in-person after we can simply because it’s kind of extra holistic and a greater method to sufferers.”

Santanam stated they needed to change operations to stick to the CDC tips however now they’re ramping again up. SHAC will quickly improve undergrad volunteer alternatives primarily by serving to clinic move — which is a task that they had earlier than the pandemic. She stated there’s a tab on their web site that undergrads can click on to seek out extra info on volunteering. 

Laska stated SHAC’s objective is to offer accessible well being companies to the local people who in any other case wouldn’t be capable of obtain them. 

“I feel our objective there may be to proceed operating and to hope that we are able to proceed to offer these companies regardless of what the world throws at us,” she stated.

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