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The Germination of a Plan
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n 2004, Manuel Jimenez, MD '06, MSHP, and John
Babineau, MD '06, along with many classmates,
were eager to put their budding clinical skills to
work to serve the community. They also hoped to begin work-
ing with health care delivery teams and develop a program of-
fering continuity of care. The students met with Yvette Molina,
longtime director of community services at Elijah's Promise, to
discuss a proposed survey of the clients' access to health care.
Having seen many well-intentioned student volunteers come
and go over the years, she responded, "What are the real ben-
efits of this survey, not for the students but for our clients?
What's in it for them?"
"I didn't think they'd be back," she says. But a week later,
they returned to her office with a detailed description of the
scope of the project, starting with a community needs assess-
ment. "I was amazed and delighted to see their work," she says.
The assessment took six months to complete, and it
revealed that about one-third of the soup kitchen's clients
lacked regular access to health care. The findings helped
frame planning for a new free clinic, designed to meet the
specific needs of the clients of Elijah's Promise.
The students sought to create an organic partnership, root-
ed in the community--a concept that was key to the clinic's
launch and has guided its continuing success. "Working
together, the partners would sit around a table to determine
what problems to solve and how to do it," says Dr. Jimenez.
"Elijah's Promise knew its clients and their needs. We learned
that the clients didn't just need health care, they also needed
services, such as social services, that promote health."
During early planning for the clinic, Denise V. Rodgers,
MD, now vice chancellor for interprofessional programs,
Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, was serving as asso-
ciate dean for community health at Robert Wood Johnson
Medical School. "I'll always have a warm spot in my heart for
John and Manny and the work they did," says Dr. Rodgers.
"But at the time, I was the constant voice of caution: `You have
to line up faculty preceptors and ensure there will always be
enough. And you have to make this sustainable. If others don't
have your energy, it will all fall apart, and you will disappoint
community expectations, especially the care recipients.' But
24 Robert WoodJohnson
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MEDICINE
Left, top: Student doctor and scheduler Ila Nimgaonkar (left) with
student doctor and manager Sanjay Jumani.
Left, middle: Manuel
Jimenez, MD '06, MSHP, was the cofounder of the Promise Clinic.
Facing page: Student doctors (left to right) Taleen Macarthur, Andrew
Butler, and Caroline Na, consult with a patient.
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