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Living our Jesuit Values: Saint Louis University School of Medicine in the Community

Engaging the Next Generation of Health Care Professionals to Care for the St. Louis Community

The Saint Louis University Health Resource Center (HRC) was founded in 1994 by a group of medical students in the spirit of our Jesuit mission to care for the “mind, body, and spirit.” The mission of the HRC is to improve the health and wellbeing of underserved members of the St. Louis community through the provision of and connection to quality health care, counseling, education, support, and advocacy.

For the past 28 years, Saint Louis University School of Medicine volunteer students and faculty and colleagues in the School of Nursing and Allied Health have provided free health care to uninsured and underinsured community members. The HRC has engaged the next generation of health care professionals in caring for our St. Louis community and neighbors. Many students have cited the HRC as instrumental in a career choice that includes caring for underserved populations.

Honoring our Veterans

There are many veteran faculty and staff at SLU, and that number is significantly magnified within our greater St. Louis community. In October, the Saint Louis University School of Medicine Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion hosted Operation Health Vets, a family-friendly community event for all veterans, at the Learning Resource Center on the School of Medicine campus. 

“Operation Healthy Vets, as well as other veteran-focused events, offers us the opportunity to connect with veterans and bring resources to them,” said Esmeralda Aharon, program director and Air Force veteran in the Department of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. “In our community, I have noticed that services are underutilized because people are unaware they exist, so events like this help to connect veterans to a variety of free resources.” 

Operation Healthy Vets was a collaborative effort with other agencies including Heart for the Unhoused at Washington University, ImpactLife Blood Center, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Community Outreach: School of Medicine Students Took to the Hyde Park Neighborhood for Impactful Service Projects

Last fall, students from the School of Medicine participated in a variety of projects to engage with neighbors and community partners beyond the classroom setting.

The School of Medicine students supported the Hyde Park community by hosting a cleanup day and a Community Resource Fair at the former Clay Elementary School. The fair showcased family-friendly activities including a bounce house, art & music activities and games, as well as health screening and information booths from a variety of participating community partners including SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, The Willie Davis Foundation, Marian Middle School, InPower Institute, Navigate STL Schools, and The SPOT, among others. 

The Community Health Fair allowed School of Medicine students the opportunity to interact with our neighbors and community partners in Hyde Park area to find innovative ways to collaborate and better serve the neighborhood. In preparation for the fair, students rolled up their sleeves and got to work cleaning the event space at the former Clay Elementary School and surrounding area. At the health fair, students focused on community awareness of vital health screening services. They opened a dialogue about the needs of the neighborhood to inform strategic planning for the School of Medicine’s work in the area including the Health Resource Center. By organizing a health fair inclusive of the neighborhood and community-based families, partners, and organization, students increased their understanding of innovative community engagement.

This activity not only helped beautify the neighborhood, but also increased students’ understanding of the historical landscape of oppression and the impact of environmental racism and red lining on the population, which contributed to the decline within the Hyde Park neighborhood.