A group of Lehigh students will begin to volunteer at the H.E.A.R.T.S.Link program at the Fowler Community Center on Oct. 6.
H.E.A.R.T.S.Link — Health, Education, Advocacy and Resources at Temple-St. Luke’s — is a student-run free clinic established in 2012 to help uninsured families get the medical help they need. Michelle Wagner, the coordinator of the clinic, said there are eight Lehigh student volunteers in each clinic year-round.
Their tasks include performing health assessments on patients and following up with them after their appointments at the clinic.
On top of its work with Lehigh, Wagner said the clinic has partnerships with St. Luke’s Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine, Temple University, the Bethlehem Health Bureau and Bethlehem Area School District.
The clinic also hosts medical student volunteers and regular staff volunteers. Wagner estimated each clinic location typically has a total of 10-20 volunteers.
“There’s this unique learning experience that occurs at the H.E.A.R.T.S.Link clinic,” Wagner said. “We are teaching more clinically-oriented students about public health and the different barriers that patients face at the intersection of public health and medicine.”
Wagner said H.E.A.R.T.S.Link aims to train future physicians to be more public health-oriented, which she believes will serve the general population more effectively.
Alanna Lynch, ’20, believes volunteering at the clinic will benefit her as well as the Lehigh community.
“Being a part of this clinic, I think I’m going to learn a lot about the barriers that people face in a low-income community that I was never aware of,” Lynch said.
Inka Leprince, ’17G, is one of the two returning Lehigh H.E.A.R.T.S.Link volunteers.
Leprince said H.E.A.R.T.S.Link is a great chance to interact and give back to the Lehigh Valley.
“You get to see a side of Bethlehem that you’ve never seen before,” Leprince said. “To be able to be in a position where you know the resources and you can connect these patients to these resources is just awesome.”
The H.E.A.R.T.S. Clinic, previously located in Broughal Middle School, relocated this year to the Fowler Family Center on East Fourth Street. to be in a more central location.
“I am excited to work directly with patients who lack resources like health insurance, but even more so I’m excited to get a better understanding of a different aspect of life and how the Lehigh community can become more aware and help,” Lynch said.