Urban Health Scholars Spring Break 2015 – Pt. 8

In March 2015, six medical students in Geisel’s Urban Health Scholars program went to New Orleans for spring break to experience and learn about the city’s challenging and distinct health care delivery system. They are sharing their experiences in several posts here on the Geisel Med Blog. You can find all their posts here.

Luke’s House: A Clinic for Healing and Hope

By: T.J. Meehan ’18

After a whirlwind morning and afternoon bouncing around the Greater New Orleans Parish, I finished the day off at Luke’s House Clinic in Central City. Luke’s House opened in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina when the medical services of the city were severely compromised and the numbers of those who found themselves homeless and uninsured skyrocketed. Along with dozens of other new make-shift community health-based clinics, Luke’s House was an attempt to rebuild the city’s medical safety net.

UHS-Nola-8Since Katrina, Luke’s House has delivered healthcare to the medically underserved every Tuesday evening. The clinic is staffed by a steady stream of local volunteers from Rayne United Methodist Church, Mount Zion United Methodist Church, and the LSU Department of Medicine/Pediatrics Residency Program. Since Katrina, Luke’s House has continued to open its doors one night a week and on the first Thursday of every month. An average of 15-20 patients are seen in the two hours it is open on clinic nights. The medical staff sees patients suffering from chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, conducts pre-employment physicals for the unemployed, and provides care for patients with more complicated health issues. In addition, Luke’s House is home to the local legend, Dr. Robert Lancaster (known as Dr. Bob), the city’s only no-fee psychiatrist. His work truly is extraordinary given Louisiana’s cuts in mental health funding, and its elevated prevalence of suicide.

In my time in the clinic, I assisted with patient check-ins and check-outs, and basic history taking. Although these may seem like trivial tasks, while doing these I had a great time at the clinic. It was obvious that every patient that came in during my time there was thankful for the services that Luke’s House is providing. Not only is the care free, but patients’ experience of care is also pretty good. There was minimal wait time, a volunteer Spanish translator helped Spanish-speaking patients throughout their visits, medical and mental health were integrated, and overall everyone in the staff appeared bright and excited to help. I felt like the care that I observed was the type of care that I would want to receive, which really made me happy because I understand how easy it can be for providers in under-resourced clinics to burn-out and appear defeated. I learned a lot in my one day at Luke’ House, but I think the one thing that will stick with me the most from this visit is the impact of having an upbeat attitude. The staff of Luke’s House is simply special. They radiate positive energy and optimism, and made me want to express a similar passion when I eventually have patients of my own.