Students gain experience, serve community at Glenwood Community Health Center

Roberto Campos

The USI-Glenwood Community Health Center has seen more than 700 patients since opening its doors in the Glenwood Leadership Academy January 2012.

In that time it has not only provided an opportunity for members of the community to seek health service, it has also provided USI students with a chance to acquire real-world experience.

“Being able to work here is a wonderful opportunity that gets you down inside the city – it’s not a general clinical program,” social work student Elizabeth McCormick said. “This is something based out of USI, which gives the school a little bit better opportunity to integrate students into the inner-city. The area and the arena that Glenwood works within is an experience that most students wouldn’t get the chance to work with.”

McCormick, who is seeking her master’s, is an intern at the health center and is Glenwood’s first social work student.

Glenwood, as well as the newly opened Cedar Hall location, provide students from a multitude of fields to gain experience in such areas as: nursing, social work and dental hygiene.

“Students have helped evolve this practice,” Karen Puritt, Glenwood outreach and operations manager said. “The best thing about having these students is that they have a great opportunity for learning. They’ve been able to take things I don’t have time for and develop those ideas. It’s a great advantage for both the health center and students.”

Students also have a chance to apply what they learn in the classroom with patients.

“Here I take more of an active, listening role which is something I didn’t get a lot of experience with as an undergraduate student,” McCormick said. “So to be able to actually sit down with patients and utilize the social work skills I’ve learned as a bachelor’s student has been an awesome opportunity.”

A year since the opening, Glenwood has passed all expectations set for it in a grant that was provided to USI by the Health Resources and Service Administration. The health center took six years of planning and the help of local leaders like St. Mary’s and Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation as well as previous dean of the College of Nursing, Nadine Coudret.

“We have surpassed all of the goals that were laid out for us in the grant provided by USI,” Purrit said. “One of our main goals now is marketing so that more people know we’re here providing health services to the public.”

Something that the health center also provides is an array of patients and situations that students might not normally see.

“Many of our patients here are complicated,” Suzi Baker, health center nurse practitioner said. “The advantage that this environment provides to students is a dynamic environment to learn from. It’s something that’s beneficial for students and the patients.”

The health center has had 300 patients return out of the 700-plus patients that they saw last year.

A fourth of those patients have been kids from the Glenwood Leadership Academy.

“I didn’t have a regular family doctor to see and I heard that Glenwood was a nice place to go and after I went I really liked it,” James Kemp, a five-month patient at the health center, said. “I like the service, the friendly staff, and if you don’t have an appointment, they’ll do their best to fit you in. They just offer real great service.”

Something that the health center doesn’t want to become known for is being an urgent care center.

“We really want to become a primary care center,” Purrit said. “That is something that we have to work on and is another big goal for us.”

The USI-Glenwood Community Health Center is available to USI students and staff along with the Glenwood and Evansville community.

“We treat the whole patient here, not just the body, not just the mind,” McCormick said. “Physical, emotional, mental – we want to cover our bases because we see these patients as people. They’re not a number on a list.”