Two summer interns experience the impact the free health clinic has in the community
August 15, 2022
Two college seniors, Omar Jawhar and Liam McMillan, spent a good part of their summer this year volunteering at the Northern Neck – Middlesex, Free Health Clinic (NNMFHC), where they were able to get a comprehensive look at the status and challenges of rural health care.
The NNMFHC is the area’s health-care home for low-income residents who have no health insurance, who are on Medicaid, or who are on Medicare but cannot find a provider or need help with medications. The NNMFHC served 1,628 individuals last year, including 747 who saw a medical provider and 1,087 who visited for dental care. More than 14,000 prescriptions were provided through the Clinic Pharmacy.
It’s a busy place, and help is always needed.
Omar Jawhar, a rising senior and pre-med student at Old Dominion University, followed the recommendation of his father, a physician at RGH, to look for volunteer opportunities in a free clinic setting.
“I enjoyed learning from the clinic’s providers, nurses, and all other staff members,” he said. “My experiences at the clinic taught me about the many aspects of patient interaction. Whether it was taking vital signs, drawing blood or assisting in bringing patients back to the exam rooms, I felt a connection to this underserved population.
“I am currently in the process of completing an internship at a larger hospital, and I continue to think back to what I learned from my time at the clinic. With many aspects of medicine becoming more and more commercialized, I am glad that NNMFHC continues to treat medicine as a basic human need, rather than a luxury.”
Liam McMillan is a rising senior at Virginia Tech, where he is a biology major with a biomedical focus. “Working with the NNMFHC has been an experience like none other,” he said. “In only three weeks I have had the opportunity to help in both the medical and dental clinics, as well as in the pharmacy. In this short time I have seen the profound impact the NNMFHC has on its community.”
He noted the “personal touch completely lost in many medical practices elsewhere: the staff will know and remember patients, have neighborly conversations with them during their appointment, and recall details like asking how a patient’s family member is doing after a patient mentioned they were sick at their last appointment.
“As a student pursuing medical school, I have heard much talk about how medicine is becoming a business, with patients and doctors alike disliking this new system. NNMFHC is clearly still the exception to this trend and has given me hope that a career in medicine can still involve personalized, reasonable, and inexpensive patient care.”
Shown in the photo are the NNMFHC Medical Clinic staff and summer interns at the nurses’ station. From left are Tamara Hall, Nurse Practitioner; Linda Davis, RN; interns Omar Jawhar and Liam McMillan; Dr. Paul Sutherland, and medical assistant Michele Fulcher.