Local residents helped by medical school volunteers, new grant

Helping Hands Grant

Clinic volunteers Harvey G. Clermont, M.D., assistant professor of surgery at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS), and UMMS medical student Jacob Kushkuley at work in the Akwaaba free clinic.

As grants go, it’s not large.

But a group of students at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) has big ideas about how to transform $5,000 from the Helping Hands Grant Program into significant health and fitness rewards for local residents who don’t have access to insurance or benefits.

The grant will be used at the Akwaaba Free Clinic in Worcester, Mass., to provide clients with education materials from the National Institute of Mental Health and the American Psychiatric Association, and to conduct mental health screenings, according to Jacob Kushkuley, one of the students who volunteers at Akwaaba and other clinics in the area. Kushkuley said the grant also will help pay for medications, bus passes, and passes to the local YMCA.

“Our goal is to reduce barriers to health care for the underserved and help the local population develop healthier lifestyles,” said Kushkuley.

Akwaaba is one of six sites operated by the Worcester Free Clinic Coalition, a group of volunteer medical students, physicians, nursing students and others who came together to give area residents access to quality, long-term health care. Each site serves between 10 and 50 people each week in the Worcester/Shrewsbury area. Volunteers provide immediate medical assistance, free medications, physical exams, immunizations, and laboratory/EKG testing.

Other UMMS student volunteers include Matt Sloan, Rebecca Lumsden, Laurel Dezieck, Nina Suresh, Caleb Dresser, Mackenzie Bartlett, and Jonathan Barry. Kushkuley and Sloan wrote the Helping Hands grant application.