The mission of the Defiance Cares Free Clinic is to provide primary health care services to area residents, while offering Defiance College students the opportunity to experience aspects of both the medical and social work fields through community service.
"This is part of a new model of undergraduate ed-ucation, which we are proud to be a part of," DC president Mark Gordon told me earlier this week.
Plus, it's so much more.
It represents a unique partnership involving the college and three local health partners -- ProMedica Defiance Regional Hospital, Mercy Defiance Hospital and Mercy Defiance Clinic.
It's an amazing opportunity for pre-med, nursing, athletic training, social work, and wellness and fitness majors to job shadow seasoned practitioners in their chosen profession as early as their freshman year.
And it's a godsend for area residents without health insurance.
"I've been able to shadow people in my profession, network and work on my leadership skills," acknowledged senior social work and psychology major Lindsay Kasmer of Medina. (She will also graduate with two minors -- music ministry and ministry studies faith formation.)
"More importantly," she added, "I've been able to give back to the community that has adopted me. I'm not just a college student. Through the clinic, I'm an involved member of an amazing community."
DC Cares Free Clinic recently celebrated its second anniversary, which makes this an appriopriate and proper time to trumpet its accomplishments and services to area residents.
The clinic is held on the third Saturday morning of every month from 9 a.m.-noon at North Pointe Commons, 1018 Ralston Ave., suite 102.
It is open to Defiance County area residents who are uninsured or otherwise in need of medical care.
It has served more than 250 patients since it opened, ranging in age from eight months to 69 years.
The three local health partners provide physicians, nurses, equipment and medical expertise to host and operate the primary health care clinic.
Working through the student-run non-profit Project 701, DC students welcome patients, assist medical professionals in recording income eligibility and medical histories, offer referral information for additional community services, and coordinate marketing and outreach.
"I have been very impressed with the dedication and methodology of the students in handling the data," said Gordon. "Now two years in, some have graduated and moved on to graduate and professional schools. They are going to do wonderful things."
Program coordinators are Diane Simon, RN, CEN, of Promedica Defiance Regional Hospital; and Deb Bowers, RN, OCN, of Defiance Mercy Hospital.
Dr. Paul Brose was medical director in 2011 and 2012. Dr. Beth Besaw is the current medical director.
All of the above are saints.
"Gary Cates (PDRH president) and Chad Peter (Mercy Defiance Clinic president) were both involved in the creation and implementation of the free medical clinic, along with doctors and nurses from both hospitals," said Gordon.
"This couldn't have been done without them."
Perhaps the most enlightening testimony, however, came from the patients themselves.
"I think it is a great compliment to the community that the free clinic is provided for those in need," said one.
"Thank you for your help," added another. "This is a great program and really helpful."
Yet another resident was even more direct with her praise.
"Best thing that has come to Defiance in a long time."