(September 25, 2013)

Santé students partner with MLK Health Center

SHREVEPORT, LA — Santé, Centenary's Living Learning Community that strives to improve the health of the disadvantaged people in Shreveport and around the world, will continue working with the Martin Luther King Health Center for a second year.

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Santé students from the 2012-2013 school year

The Martin Luther King Health Center is the oldest free clinic and pharmacy in Louisiana. The clinic provides primary healthcare and pharmacy services at no cost to uninsured patients with chronic illness who otherwise often forgo routine medical care because of a lack of resources.

"Last year, our students helped create an identity and fundraising material for the Center," said Dr. Chris Ciocchetti, faculty advisor of Santé and Philosophy Department-Chair. "The center is doing very well. They do great work with limited resources, but really hadn't done much fundraising...so our students helped get the word out to build support."

This year Santé students Chantel Lee, Candace Meteoyer, Ninjia Miles, Ericka Vazquez, and Joanna Warren, under the supervision of Ciocchetti are improving the online presence of the clinic and creating videos and other promotional materials as well as offering research and support as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) goes into effect.

"The Affordable Care Act changes a lot for these free clinics," said Ciocchetti. "Unfortunately, (the ACA) doesn't come with extra staff to figure out what it changes, so that's what our students are doing."

Miles is the point person for the ACA project. This summer she compiled a list of cities in the United States comparable to the size of the Shreveport-Bossier area and contacted the community clinics.

"We asked the directors for information about how their clinics run, ways they do fundraising, the potential impact of the Affordable Care Act, and how they plan to adapt to it," said Miles.

Responses will be compiled into a report of best free clinic practices and distributed to the Martin Luther King Health Center and other clinics. "Hopefully this can be the start of some productive collaboration between free clinics," said Ciocchetti.

The partnership with the Martin Luther King Health Center has offered Centenary students an opportunity to be active in the conversation about healthcare without having a medical degree.

"Being a doctor stands out as something you can do when talking about poverty and health," said Ciocchetti. "Often students don't see a whole lot of other options. But I think when (our students are) looking at the structure of these clinics, it will be helpful for them to see all the different positions at work, see what everyone does, and they can look at those as job options...our students are getting a bigger vision of what they can do and how they can make a difference."

By researching, fundraising, and event planning, Santé students can be part of the change.

"The opportunity I have to serve Martin Luther King Health Center really means a lot to me," said Miles. "I'm not from Shreveport, I knew I wanted to help, but I didn't know how or where. Once I started (volunteering) at MLKHC, I felt as is if I was serving my purpose. It feels great to be making a difference and helping a place that I believe is a major part of the community."

The Martin Luther King Health Center will participate in Providence House's Sleepout 4 Independence event on November 16 at Independence Stadium to raise awareness and support for homeless families with children in Northwest Louisiana. Santé students are helping publicize and raise money for the event.

For more information about Santé, the Martin Luther King Health Center, and Sleepout 4 Independence, visit these links: